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Issue #182
Vol. XVII, No. 1
June 1992
James M. Ward
Roger E. Moore
Associate editor
Dale A. Donovan
Fiction editor
Barbara G. Young
Editorial assistant
Wolfgang H. Baur
Production staff
Gaye O'Keefe Angelika Lokotz
Tracey Zamagne Mary Roath
Janet L. Winters
U.S. advertising
Roseann Schnering
U.K. correspondent
and U.K. advertising
Bronwen Livermore
Not Cheaper by the Dozen — Spike Y. Jones
Twelve of the DRAGONLANCE® saga’s most egg-citing creations.
The Vikings' Dragons — Jean Rabe
Linnorms: the first of a two-part series on the Norse dragons.
The Dragons Bestiary — Gregory Detwiler
unhealthy branches of the dragon family tree.
The Dragonbone Flute — fiction by Lois Tilton
He was a shepherd who loved music—but he loved his audience more.
Art director
Larry W. Smith
Dragons: the lords of fantasy
Our annual tribute to our namesakes—long may they live!
The Role of Computers — Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser
From Mars to the stars: two high-powered science-fiction games.
Role-playing Reviews — Lester Smith
Now you can be the smallest of creatures or the most powerful.
Through the Looking Glass — Robert Bigelow
A collection of draconic wonders, for gaming or display.
Novel Ideas — James Lowder
Two new horrific novels, spawned in the mists of Ravenloft.
The Voyage of the Princess Ark — Bruce A. Heard
This month, the readers’ questions take center stage.
The Wild, Wild World of Dice — Michael J. D’Alfonsi
Okay, so how many six-sided dice do you own?
Kings of the Caravans — Ed Greenwood
A land like the Forgotten Realms requires tough merchants!
Dragonslayers on the Screen — Dorothy Slama
Some handy guidelines for letting your computer be your DM.
Pen Power II — the DRAGON® Magazine staff
Our second survey in the quest for a Better Magazine.
“Ready! Aim! Fire!” — Donald D. Miller
What’s so good about a crossbow? An on-target article for all fighters.
Psionics—In Living Color! — Jan Berrien Berends
Add new richness to your AD&D® game with these DM tips.
The MARVEL®-Phile — Steven E. Schend
What little surprises might Dr. Doom have in store for you?
5 Letters
6 Editorial
29 Sage Advice
37 Convention Calendar
78 TSR Previews
91 Forum
102 Dragonmirth
104 Twilight Empire
108 Gamers Guide
C O V E R If the two children in this month’s cover painting seem very lifelike, that’s
because they’re modelled on artist Paul Jaquays’s own offspring. We assume the dragon is
purely imaginary, but one never knows with artists.
4 JUNE 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.
First things first?
Dear Dragon,
Are we a dying minority? I am referring to
those of us who enjoy and prefer the AD&D®
1st Edition materials and accessories. It seems
more and more that it is becoming impossible to
find resource materials for the 1st Edition.
Personally, I have all of the original resources,
but as time goes by I find myself needing new
copies of books, modules, etc. Unfortunately,
you no longer print any of the stuff. How can
those of us who so love the original game obtain
out-of-print materials? I have played and supported TSR products since the early 1980s. I
empathize with your company’s need to grow,
but let’s not forget about those of us who helped
make TSR what it is today.
Timothy Woods
LaGrange KY
If you need to purchase good-quality copies of
AD&D 1st Edition game products, you have
several options. One, check all of your local toy
and hobby shops for those copies (check the
games sections of B. Dalton’s and Waldenbooks,
tool. Some of these places might still have the
older volumes and modules on their shelves or
in “bargain bins” with other out-of-print materials. Two, read the advertisements in DRAGON
Magazine, including the “Gamers Guide”; some
advertisers sell these older materials. Three, if
you are a member of the RPGA™ Network, place
an advertisement in the POLYHEDRON™
Newszine asking for someone to sell an unwanted copy to you. Four, if there is a classifieds
section of your local newspaper, place an ad in
the “Wanted” section asking for those volumes.
Five, investigate any used-game auctions at local
game or fantasy/SF conventions. Six, let all of
your friends know. which specific materials you
are looking for, so they can check with their
friends in other areas. If you have a pen pal or
gaming friends in other states, write to them to
see if they can turn up what you need.
TSR cannot continue to produce those older
products that you are seeking, but there are still
lots of options left to you. If you want new
material for your AD&D 1st Edition game, you
couldn’t do better than to simply use the material for the AD&D 2nd Edition game. It will not
take you long to make the necessary changes
from one edition to the other, and you might
even find new things to add to your campaign
on a permanent basis.
Myth vs. fact
Dear Dragon,
I was wondering if you might be able to
provide a list of all the editorials, either by
Roger Moore or by guest writers, that discuss
the issue of role-playing games under attack by
the press, religious groups, or individual authors.
Having changed residences recently, all of my
issues of DRAGON Magazine were lost in the
moving process, and I can no longer look
through my own issues for these editorials. I
hope that asking this favor will help all people
involved with role-playing games to present an
intelligent and informed defense of them, and of
the AD&D game in particular, if and when the
need arises. For myself, I’d like to actually read
some of the books that were mentioned as being
antagonistic towards role-playing, and I would
also like to keep a running file of all future
editorials dealing with the subject. With a B.A.
in psychology, I hope to someday put this information to use in helping parents and teens alike
in making sense of “myth vs. fact” concerning
role-playing games.
Greg Handleton
Cincinnati OH
Editorials dealing with the negative publicity
and accusations made against role-playing
games have appeared in the following issues:
issue #125, “‘Myths”; issue #134, “Equal time”;
issue #151, “Laying the blame”; issue #158,
“Mica Antelope”; issue #171, “Role-playing and
the real world” (by Michael A. Stackpole); and in
this very issue. Furthermore, numerous “Forum” letters on this topic appeared in issues
#160-162 and #181 (and, again, in this issue).
I’ve become more interested myself in reading
the books that attack role-playing games, because some of those who accuse role-playing of
being a dangerous hobby appear to have far
more dangerous ideas themselves—ideas that
are dangerous to things like the Constitution,
the Bill of Rights, and our religious and political
freedoms, including the freedom to read and
think what you want and to accept responsibility for being a free person. I have found more
outright bigotry and intolerance in material that
opposes gaming than I’ve ever seen in any roleplaying rule book, and their works are intended
for use in real life, not in a game of makebelieve! (See the editorial for the facts on one
particular case.)
There are lots of people who are genuinely
concerned about what they’ve heard or read or
seen about role-playing games, and they want
some answers. I understand their concern (I’m a
parent, tool, and there are answers for them.
But there are also people out there who are
making irresponsible claims about these games,
offering everything except the facts to support
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Continued on page 7
A word of warning
about a word of warning
Glenn Palmer, whoever you are, I owe
you my thanks. I’m not sure why you had
Chick Publications send its general sample
pack and retail catalog to DRAGON® Magazine, but the material inside it sure opened
my eyes.
But it opened my eyes to things you
might not have thought it would.
Many of you out there have probably
seen the little Dark Dungeons pamphlet
pictured below. It’s been around since
1984, and many copies of it have circulated through our offices here at TSR. At
best, the creative staff here has found it
highly amusing particularly when we
painted out the word balloons and added
our own dialog. At worst, we have found
it to be full of lies.
The booklet claims that playing fantasy
role-playing games will grant you genuine
occult powers, so that you can impress
your friends, join covens, cast mindbondage spells on your parents so that
they buy more gaming materials for you,
and so forth. Young people who have
played fantasy role-playing games know
for a fact that, alas, there are no mindbondage spells, and you can’t use the rules
to cast a real-life spell even if you tried all
day, because those spells are all make-
believe. It isn’t worth impressing your
friends with the fact that you role-play,
either, as games are meant for mutual fun
and entertainment, not impressing people.
Okay, so much for that. Now for a few
words about other products from the
company that publishes that little booklet.
As I write this, I have before me the Fall
1991 retail catalog for Chick Publications,
the company that has been bringing you
Dark Dungeons all these years. I’ve found
it to be very informative, particularly in
showing the wide assortment of “educational” materials that this company offers.
The most unintentionally amusing booklet it offers is Who, Me?, which is a sort of
primer on how to litter. Actually, it tells
how to distribute the little booklets that
Chick Publications makes, offering hints
like, “Could you leave a little booklet in a
phone booth?” It then expands the range
of places to leave booklets to include res
taurants, restrooms, mailboxes, newspaper dispensers, public benches, laundromats, taxis, other people’s coat pockets,
rented cars, retaining walls, and bleacher
But that’s about the only funny booklet
in the catalog, because the others tend to
get right down to serious business, and
bashing role-playing games is far from the
top of the list of this company’s publishing
For example, we have The Curse of
Baphomet and Masonry: Beyond the Light,
both of which claim to reveal the links
between Masonry and Satan.
There’s The Devil’s Disciples and Dancing with Demons: The Music’s Real Master,
which detail how “Satan’s handiwork” is
seen in rock, rap, and “Christian rock”
There’s Big Daddy and The Collapse of
Evolution, which offer “the scientific facts
that your teacher won’t tell you” about
evolution that are claimed to disprove it.
(Note: I’ve read Big Daddy, and it has some
holes in its logic that you could drive a
truck full of Piltdown Men through.)
And Chick Publications offers some very
interesting books and tracts that directly
attack other religions (“Satan is big in the
religion business,” notes the retail catalog
on page 8). The Traitor seeks to prove the
“falsehood” of Hinduism. The Deceived
goes after Moslems. The Trap, Satan’s
Master, and Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie
attack New Age and modern pagan
groups. As you would guess, there’s even a
text against Judaism, only this one’s a
comic book (Chaos). And . . . Chick Publications offers materials with which you
can even attack Christians.
Yes, indeed. From the point of view of
Chick Publications, being Christian isn’t
enough. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses each get a booklet or two apiece (The
Visitors, Witnessing Effectively to Mormons, and The Crisis). But the religious
group that comes in for the greatest share
of Chick Publications’ attacks—seemingly
even more so than satanism itself—is
Roman Catholicism.
You bet. According to The Secret History
of the Jesuits, sold through the retail catalog, Jesuits started both World Wars
(“They are the pope’s [sic] ’shock troops.’”
—retail catalog, page 27). Smokescreens
describes “the Vatican’s intent to stamp out
religious freedom and rule the world”
(retail catalog, page 26). There’s lots more,
but I think you have the idea pretty well
by now.
In case you wonder if I took these
quotes out of context, feel free to write for
your own retail catalog from Chick Publications. It’s free for the asking (I just now
called and checked to make sure). Write
to: Chick Publications, P.O. Box 662, Chino
CA 91708-0662, U.S.A. Read it and see if
I’m making all this up. This is America,
and you have the freedom to think for
yourself and find out the truth.
Okay, now let’s evaluate.
Undoubtedly, some of you have had
people shove little copies of Dark
Dungeons under your nose, telling you
that you’d better read it because you play
those evil role-playing games. Well, now
you know something about that little
booklet and its publishing company that
you might not have known before. If you
don’t like Shriners, Elvis, science, or nuns,
and you believe in the value of good, oldfashioned religious bigotry, maybe Chick
Publications has got the material you’re
looking for.
On the other hand, maybe you’ll have
some serious doubts about trusting any
“educational” material coming from a
company that offers a booklet about the
Catholic Communion wafer entitled The
Death Cookie.
The moral of this editorial is: Always
consider your sources.
And if you ever come across one of
those little Chick Publications booklets
lying around in a phone booth, supermarket, or restroom, and you’re seized with
the urge to toss it into a garbage can—
well, I’ll never tell.
Continued from page 5
their statements. We need to do some serious
thinking about exactly what sorts of people are
making these claims and what sorts of other
things these people might have on their minds.
Can we really take their antigaming concerns
seriously? Or should we perhaps be seriously
concerned about their other goals?
People who oppose role-playing have as much
right as those who support it to air their views.
We should see to it, however, that our views are
intelligent and well informed, and that we
express them in a responsible manner. The best
advice I can give on this is for each of us to take
a look at our own experience with gaming and
develop a sense of what it means to us; that will
form a solid groundwork on which everything
else can be built. If someone expresses some
concerns about gaming, see if you can answer
those concerns to that persons satisfaction. If
you meet someone whose opinion is firmly set
against gaming, respect that persons right to
that opinion—but ask that your own opinion be
respected as well. Be open to facts, but don’t be
10 JUNE 1992
Not Cheaper
by the Dozen!
by Spike Y. Jones
Artwork by Robert Lessl
12 egg-citing magicks from the DRAGONLANCE® setting
Many magical items and spells are specific to the world of Krynn, though the
best-known items (e.g., dragonlances) are
those related to the Dragon Wars. Few of
Krynn’s unique items were devised after
the Cataclysm, mainly because of the
Kingpriest’s declaration of Manifest Virtue
(defining magic as a source of evil) in the
year 118 PC and the disfavor into which
magic fell during the Age of Darkness. The
origins of and procedures to reproduce
many items of past Ages are still on record
in the Towers of High Sorcery, however,
and with magic waxing popular once
again, many more constructs are waiting
to be invented. Here follow a dozen wonders of magic from Krynn, with two simple themes: “eggs” and “dragons.”
3,100 PC—Age of Light
Numerous strange things came into
existence in the wake of the Graystone of
Gargath’s travels across skies of Krynn,
one of which was the Incubalum, an egglike object almost a foot in length and
made of a hard, gray substance reminiscent of the Graystone itself. The Incubalum is AC 2 and is immune to all effects
except physical force; it saves as rock +2
(against crushing blows and falls only) on
Table 29, on page 39 in the Player’s Handbook. If its shell is ever cracked, it will
burst open, and a full-grown adult specimen of an egg-laying, land-dwelling animal
will spring forth.
The hatched creature can be of any sort,
from a normal bird or reptile up to a
dragon (but not a draconian; such things
did not exist when the Incubalum came
into existence). The more common the
creature is in the world, the more likely it
is to emerge from the Incubalum (see
Table 1). It will not have memories of its
“childhood,” as it did not exist before the
moment of hatching, nor will it have any
preexisting loyalties besides those provided by instincts such as hunger and alignment. (The DM should determine the exact
nature of the creature that appears, given
the guidelines of Table 1; it might be good
to create this being before the device is
placed in the campaign, with a few notes
on the being’s reactions upon hatching.)
This device has at times opened to reveal a
creature of a type not known to be native
to Krynn, though whether such oddities
are from other worlds or merely from
unexplored areas of Krynn is not known.
When the creature eventually dies, the
shards of its egg come together (from
wherever their location or condition) to
form the Incubalum once more. It then
teleports to a random location on the
planet to await another hatching.
As an artifact, no one receives any experience points for making the Incubalum.
Egg of dragon breath
2,672 PC—Age of Light
During the Second Dragon War of
Silvanesti, many magical weapons and
spells were developed to use against the
rampaging dragons. One was developed
that was considered too horrible to be
employed by the honorable warriors of
that age. The knowledge of how to create
this weapon was never lost, however, and
people with fewer scruples eventually did
employ eggs of dragon breath to a small
extent during the War of the Lance, over
3,000 years later.
An egg of dragon breath is an actual
dragon’s egg, shrunken and hardened by
powerful magicks (this perversion of the
egg is the reason why good-aligned wizards are hesitant to make them). The egg
becomes a device that shatters when
hurled against a hard surface, releasing
the effects of the breath weapon appropriate to that egg’s dragon-type in a 20’ radius around the impact site.
The damage done is dependent on the
amount of effort the creating mage used
in its manufacture. First, 1,000 steel pieces
and one week of time must be put into the
mage’s creation efforts to produce a
“hatchling’s egg.” Doubling this amount
will raise by one dragon’s age group the
damage done by the egg (a “very young
dragon’s egg”). This doubling process
continues until the enormous sum of
2,048,000 stl and 40 years is reached,
which would be needed to make an egg of
great wyrm’s breath. The maker of such
an item gains experience points equal to
Artwork by John Stanko
Table 1
Incubalum Random Hatching Table
1d100 Creature hatched (examples)
Amphibian, normal (frog, toad)
Amphibian, giant (giant frog, giant toad, killer frog)
Amphibian, special (bullywug, fire toad)
Bird, normal (eagle, raven, owl)
Bird, giant (giant eagle, giant raven, giant owl)
Bird, special (roc, aarakocra)
Insect/Arachnid, normal (ant, beetle, spider)
Insect/Arachnid, giant (skrit, giant scorpion, giant beetle)
Insect/Arachnid, special (phase spider, ankheg, carrion crawler)
Reptile, normal (snake, turtle, lizard)
Reptile, giant (giant snake, giant lizard)
Reptile, special (hydra, dragon, dinosaur)
one-tenth of its manufacturing cost.
There is nothing to stop a rich mage
from festooning himself with powerful
eggs of dragon’s breath. However, there is
a danger in this, besides the hazards entailed in procuring the dragon eggs themselves. An egg of dragon breath is
necessarily rather brittle, and if an eggcarrier falls down or otherwise takes a
physical blow, and if there is no adequate
protection for the egg (which makes item
saving throws vs. all effects as if it were
made of glass), the egg’s effects are released around the bearer. Some magical
weapons are best used in moderation.
shell of protection
2,660 PC—Age of Light
This item, a silvered chicken’s egg in
appearance, was created by Magius of the
Red Robes during the Second Dragon War
and given to one of the war’s heroes because of a stricture preventing mages
from using weapons of war. Thus it was
not with him when he was captured by
the Dark Queen, a captivity Magius did not
survive. Since that time, the shell has
passed through the hands of many an
adventurer or nobleman.
To operate this steel-hard egglike device,
one places it on a level surface and spins it
on its wide end. From the egg’s surface, a
translucent shell of light springs forth in
all directions to form a shimmering eggshaped shell of protection, 10’ in diameter
horizontally and 15’ vertically (although
five of those vertical feet are under the
surface the egg is spinning on, making the
visible portion of the shell cone-shaped).
The device grants full protection from
normal missiles within its boundaries.
Additionally, any beings that attempt to
enter its field are usually turned aside
without injury, in any random direction
that does not allow for penetration of the
field. The percent chance of making it
through the field equals the creature’s hit
dice multiplied by five, with bonus hit
points added as percentage points. For
example, a wyvern of 7 + 7 HD has a
( 7 × 5 ) + 7 = 3 5 + 7 = 42% chance of mak12 JUNE 1992
ing it through the field to attack the device’s user, and a 12th-level fighter (with
9 + 9 ten-sided hit dice) has a 54% chance.
One attempt to enter the field may be
made per round. Magic resistance must be
checked before a creature possessing this
characteristic (such as a dragon or fiend)
makes its “turn away” roll; if the resistance check succeeds, the creature may
enter the field easily.
The shells effects last as long as the egg
is kept spinning, an activity a spinner can
keep up for one turn per point of his
constitution, after which he will have to
rest for as long as he spun the shell. The
spinner suffers an armor-class penalty of
two steps while concentrating on keeping
the shell in motion by spinning it with his
The maker of a shell of protection gains
1,000 XP from the creation process. Variations of this item have been seen that
protect specifically against certain types of
creatures, such as undead, dragons, etc.
Command Dragon spell
2,650 PC—Age of Light
Level: 5 Wiz
Comp.: V,S,M
CT: 3 turns
Range: 10 mi./lvl.
Duration: 4 hrs./lvl. Save: None
Area of Effect: One dragon
This spell was created by an elf mage
too near the close of the Second Dragon
War to be used to major effect in that
conflict. When cast, the dragon affected is
forced to obey all commands of the sort
listed in the suggestion spells description
(page 153, Player’s Handbook). The caster
and the dragon can communicate by way
of a telepathic link as long as they stay
within the spells range. As the mage uses
telepathy to “speak” to the dragon, he
need not know the dragon’s language to be
understood. The mind-link does not allow
him to see, hear, or smell what the dragon
can, but he can ask the dragon to describe
what it senses, and it is compelled to answer his questions truthfully. The dragon
cannot knowingly cause harm to the caster while the spell is in effect. Acts or sug-
gestions by the caster that violate the
guidelines of the suggestion spell allow the
dragon victim to make a saving throw vs.
spells in order to throw off the spell entirely, though it need not obey “illegal”
commands in any event.
Wonderful though this spell is, it has two
drawbacks. The first is that the dragon, if
it saves against the spell or is released
from the spell’s grip, will quite likely want
to teach the caster a brief and fatal lesson
about the consequences of controlling
dragons. The second is that the spell must
be cast on the complete and unadulterated
set of shards of the egg from which the
particular dragon involved was hatched; if
even one shard is missing, the spell will
have no effect. The egg’s shards are destroyed in the casting, so that the spell can
be used only once per dragon. Mages
planning to make use of this spell often
collect entire clutches of dragon eggs in
anticipation of their future needs, then
attempt to track their future “clients.”
Dreamhold/The Promise
2,645 PC—Age of Light
The majority of magical items found on
Krynn were created by elves or humans,
but there are exceptions, such as the
dwarven-made Hammer of Kharas. The
rarest are items constructed by dragons.
Dragons have little use for magical
weapons. The magical items they do make
cater to different needs. Dreamhold, a
gigantic quartz crystal carved into the
shape of a multifaceted dragon’s egg about
1’ long, is such an item.
Gazing into the various facets of
Dreamhold, one can see vignettes including scenes of sculpted caverns, great eggs
hatching, the first flight of dragon-young,
gleaming piles of treasure, and, as an
unpleasant climax, the banishment of the
dragons at the end of the Second Dragon
War. Those who know the proper command words can even project these moving images into any space within 30’ of
Dreamhold itself.
During the exile of the Queen of Darkness, what had once been an entertaining
toy became an object of veneration. It was
used by Takhisis to incite the evil dragons
in their return to Krynn at the onset of the
War of the Lance. Thus, while this bauble
was once valuable only for the material of
its construction, it was renamed by Takhisis as The Promise, eventually becoming a
religious icon an evil dragon might die to
possess or protect. Good dragons are not
caught up in this fanaticism and still view
the Dreamhold as a device for entertainment, not veneration.
As a unique artifact, none but its original
crafter gained experience points for its
creation. Its sale value has never been
calculated, but to the right buyer-such as
a desperate dragon—it could fetch a colossal price.
Mishakal’s token
1,902 PC—Age of Might
This beautiful translucent egg, the size
of a chicken’s egg, is smooth to the touch.
Constellations of gems are visible beneath
its ivory surface. This was a gift from the
goddess, Mishakal, to the people of Krynn,
celebrating the peace after the Kinslayer
and Ergoth/Thorbardin wars that tore
apart the world in earlier centuries.
It has no martial applications, but when
placed overnight beneath the pillow of a
woman who truly desires pregnancy, it
will grant the woman’s desire, without
need for the participation of any man
(although most women requesting the use
of the token have a partner anyway). Once
the token’s part in conception is played,
the pregnancy progresses normally and in
complete health. Any child born shows a
normal resemblance to its parent(s), not to
Mishakal or any other. There is a 5%
chance of a multiple birth of 2-5 children.
The token was freely loaned on a nightly
basis to women of any race who came
seeking the gift of Mishakal. When any
area was no longer in need of the token’s
services, it was moved to another of Mishakal’s temples. Following the Cataclysm,
there is no record of the token’s whereabouts, but it could conceivably still be in
use somewhere in Krynn.
As with other artifacts, no mortal could
make a copy of it, so it has no experiencepoint value. Those of the Temple of Mishakal would not offer money for its return
should it be found, expecting those in
possession of it to return it of their own
accord. If some other person or institution
wishes to hold the token, no one can predict what price they would pay for it. It is
rumored that at least one good dragon
that lost its eggs during the War of the
Lance is searching for this item, in hopes
of starting a new family.
Apprentice’s egg
1,600 PC—Age of Might
When a wizard of Krynn declares his
alignment and passes his Test of High
Sorcery, he is apprenticed to a greater
wizard to learn the secrets of their craft.
One such secret is the manufacture of
magical items, and the apprentice’s egg is a
minor part of this training, usually
forgotten later by more accomplished
The apprentice’s egg is an inch-long
magical construct used to hold the energies of a single cantrip spell in place, to be
released when the egg is destroyed. The
exact effects of each cantrip depends on
the creator’s wishes (subject to the DM’s
approval; the cantrips in the AD&D 1st
Edition volume Unearthed Arcana are
useful as spell guidelines). Apprentice’s
eggs each cost 10 stl and take one day to
produce. The maker gains 1 XP per egg.
The egg can be thrown up to 30’, and
the spell it contains will be released at the
point of impact if the egg fails an item
saving throw as glass (see “Grenade-Like
Missiles” on pages 62-63 of the DMG for
targeting information). As apprentice’s
eggs are made without use of enchant an
item or permanency spells, they are somewhat unreliable, having a percentage
chance of failing to work (rolled when the
egg impacts) equal to the maker’s intelligence subtracted from 25. A wizard with a
9 intelligence could make eggs with a 16%
failure chance, and one with an 18 intelligence could make eggs with a 7% failure
Some dragons are said to have learned
the methods for creating these items,
using them for their own amusement
though they would never admit it to any
but their own kind.
Egg of distraction
1,340 PC—Age of Might
The egg of distraction was the first
attempt at a device eventually perfected as
the egg of fascination. It was made by a
wizard of the White Robes whose name
has been lost to time. Still, both devices
are useful, and a number of copies of each
have been crafted since. In making an egg
of distraction, the creator gains 300 XP
When inactive, the egg of distraction
looks like a normal-sized egg made of hard
stone, with lustrous highlights gleaming in
it. When spun on its wide end, these glints
of color intensify, though not enough to
provide any useful light in darkness. Anyone within 20’ of the egg who is in a posi-
tion to see it, even in a mirror, must save
vs. spells or be momentarily distracted by
it. If distracted, the victim forgets what he
was about to say (including spells he was
about to cast) and suffers a -2 penalty on
attack rolls and armor class for one round,
because his eyes keep being drawn back
to the spinning egg.
While this would seem to be a particularly effective weapon, its shortcomings
are that it is indiscriminate, distracting
friend and foe alike, and that the view of
the egg is easily obstructed in a melee. It is
useful, however, is as a protection against
mind-affecting spells like hypnotism or
illusions, because the mind and eyes of
someone distracted will always be drawn
to the egg and away from the effects of
any such spell being used against him.
This allows anyone it affects a bonus of
+2 on saving throws vs. “mind-magic”
(spells against which a wisdom bonus
would be applicable).
Keeping the egg spinning is no easy task,
requiring a spin every round and penalizing the armor class of the spinner by -2
while so engaged. In addition, the spinner
must make his own saving throw each
round or become distracted himself, forgetting to continue spinning the egg. A
spinner can keep an egg of distraction in
motion for one turn per point of his constitution, after which time he must rest for
an equal period.
Interestingly, dragons are immune to the
Egg of imprisonment
hypnotic effects of this device. At least one
small dragon was known to have used this
item in the defense of its lair.
640 PC—Age of Might
This item was created by an Abanasinian
mage, Shishushkiri, to capture his foes for
later questioning. It takes the form of a
featureless, fist-sized black egg. To work,
the caster throws the egg at a victim,
making an attack roll against AC 10 minus
any dexterity, shield, or magical bonuses
the victim possesses. If the egg misses its
target, it falls to the ground without harm.
If it strikes the target, it expands into a
dark, 7'-tall, “semi-egg” conelike shape that
is 6’ wide at its base (part of the egg’s
bottom is below floor level, 2’ deep, anchoring the egg in an upright position). If
the victim then fails a saving throw vs.
paralyzation, the egg of imprisonment will
have imprisoned him inside its mass;
otherwise, the victim escapes from the
egg, which then returns to its small form.
The enlarged egg is porous enough to
allow a relaxed and calm being to breath
easily within it, but a struggling person
will fall unconscious from lack of air after
as many rounds as he has constitution
points (though he can’t suffocate). The
shell is immune to internal attack, and
there isn’t enough room for a man-sized
victim to cast spells or accidentally hurt
himself trying to escape. On the outside,
the egg is more fragile, being AC 7 and
able to take 16 hp damage. If the egg is
broken open by comrades of the victim, if
it is voluntarily opened by someone knowing the proper command word, or if 24
hours elapse, the victim is released with
no harm done to him. The egg cannot be
moved, and it makes item saving throws as
glass, with any failed saving throw destroying the egg; destructive spells such as
fireball can destroy it if more than 16 hp
damage is done, even if the saving throw
is made (the victim inside takes either half
or full damage, depending on the egg’s
success at its own saving throw). Eggs
opened violently are destroyed in the
process, but those that either “hatch” at
the end of their one-day duration or are
opened using the correct command word
will revert to their normal form, ready for
Egg of fascination
1,335 PC—Age of Might
Created five years after the perfection of
the egg of distraction, the egg of fascination is a considerable improvement over
that device. It appears much the same as
the former—as a speckled stone egg-and
it operates in roughly the same way, being
spun on its wide end by someone who
suffers a two-step penalty to his armor
class every round he is engaged in spinning, but its effects are more powerful.
This egg is also more difficult to spin than
its predecessor, and a spinner can keep it
in motion for only five rounds per point of
his constitution, eventually resting for
twice the duration he kept it in motion.
When spun, the highlights of the egg
seem to spring off its surface and straight
into the eyes of everyone within 30' who
can see it (except the spinner), forcing
each victim to make a saving throw vs.
spells or be affected as if by a hypnotic
pattern spell, standing fascinated until two
rounds after the spinning stops. If something blocks the view of the egg, a fascinated viewer remains transfixed for two
more rounds; if his view of the egg is
restored before this time runs out, he will
once again be under its sway without
benefit of an additional saving throw.
Because the glints of light from the egg
of fascination actually project from its
surface when in use, its effects are more
exceptional in a darkened area than in
normal light. Thus, saving throws against
the egg are made at -2 if the egg is used
in darkness. Magical darkness, on the
other hand, overwhelms the power of the
egg, making it useless. Dragons are not
immune to the effects of this device as
they are with the previous one.
The maker of an egg of fascination goes
through almost the same work as a maker
of an egg of distraction, and thus gains
about the same benefit from it: 350 XP.
Although an egg of imprisonment expands to a size large enough to encompass
eight tiny-sized creatures or four smallsized creatures, this can only occur if the
creatures to be imprisoned are already
within such a small volume of space. Two
man-sized creature may be caught if
standing very close to each other. Creatures larger than man-size cannot be
trapped by the egg; if it is thrown at one,
the egg will attempt to encompass it and,
upon failing, will contract back to normal
form to fall to the ground. This item has
proven popular with at least one dragon in
the years after the War of the Lance, as it
stops attackers quite effectively for later
The experience-point value of an egg of
imprisonment is 500 XP.
550 PC—Age of Might
Like many a tinker-gnome invention, the
Ridiculator started as a simple though
impractical device. In this case, the device
was meant to extend the range at which a
rotten egg could be thrown as a prank.
The machine is now a state-of-the-art (as
far as the gnomes are concerned) monstrosity consisting of a spring-loaded,
catapult-like device to hurl “shells” (socalled even though they are complete eggs)
at its quarry. The victim is designated by a
complicated mechanical targeting system
run by a trained operator from the Hurler’s Seat in front. Behind the shell-arm,
usually shaped like a dragon’s head and
neck (the egg goes in the dragon’s open
mouth) is a delivery system to automatically reload the arm with fresh shells from
the Portable Production Module (“chicken
coop”) in the rear: a fully soundproofed
cabin containing up to 10 contented and
shell-laying Automatic Munitions Plants
(the “hens”). The Portable Production
Module is balanced on a delicate suspension system that prevents the Automatic
Munitions Plants from being disturbed
when the Ridiculator enters Transport
Mode (“Hey, Telsa, hitch up the ponies!“).
Under normal conditions, the Ridiculator can fire 2d10 eggs daily, at targets up
Table 2
Ridiculator Operations Data
Move horizontal (throwing)
Move horizontal (self)
Final modifiers
Highest complexity
Additional effects
Against yelling
Against jostling
- 4
For details, see the AD&D® 1st Edition volume, DRAGONLANCE® Adventures, pages 22-25 and 118.
14 JUNE 1992
to 45’ away, one egg per round (more eggs
may be fired if they are available). The
Ridiculator makes attack rolls as a 4-HD
creature, with normal medium- and longrange penalties for missile weapons (16’30’, -2 to hit; 31’-45’, -5 to hit). Shells
that hit do no damage to victims beyond
the embarrassment of being “egged” and
incidental damage to clothing, porous
papers, and other stainable objects. The
presence of this one-ton device is immediately evident to any prospective victims,
however, who may choose to avoid its
attentions in any number of obvious ways.
All of this may be had for only 1,150 stl
(plus operating expenses to keep the Automatic Munitions Plants well fed). Details
are given in Table 2.
Remove Disease spell
120 AC—Age of Darkness
Level: 2 Wiz
Comp.: V,S,M
Range: Touch
CT: 1 turn
Save: None
Duration: Perm.
Area of Effect: One person
During the Age of Darkness, true clerics
were not to be found on Krynn, but false
“clerics” took their place. Some renegade
wizards used “miracles” to convince people of their authenticity as messengers of
the gods; one such “miracle” was the dangerous remove disease spell, still seen on
rare occasions in isolated areas of Ansalon.
The remove disease spell has a misleading name; it merely removes a patient’s
symptoms, an effect that the practitioner
tries to pass off as a full cure. Sometimes
this leads to an incidental cure, if the
patient’s symptoms had prevented him
from resting or eating well, but almost as
often the patient’s condition secretly worsens. All game effects dealing with the
victim’s physical appearance and percep
tion of pain and discomfort vanish, but
losses of hit points or ability scores continue, as do system-shock checks and
saving throws. Because he can feel no
symptoms, the victim usually takes no
further steps to deal with his illness and
eventually dies from a disease he might
otherwise have survived (as an example, a
pneumonia sufferer with his symptoms
removed might go out into the cold and
damp to do a day’s work, suffering double
pneumonia as a result without realizing it).
When this spell is performed, the symptoms of the patient are transferred to the
material component—a freshly laid, fertile
egg from any avian or reptile, including a
dragon. Depending on the severity of the
symptoms, the creature developing within
the egg is likely to be disfigured but,
strangely, not ill (such as a chick with all of
the physical symptoms of the plague but
without the plague germs themselves,
which still covertly attack the patient).
If, unfortunately, the patient should
happen to die from the disease before the
false cleric can get out of town, the egg
can be brought forth and broken, with the
pitiful creature inside being blamed for
the miscasting of the spell (“If the egg you
villagers had provided me was truly fresh,
this would not have happened.” [crack!]
“See? The evidence of your mistake is to
be seen in the contents of the egg.”)
The false clerics wisely attempted to
keep the nature of this spell secret, but
even where the truth was known some
people were willing to play the “cleric’s”
price in order to get relief from aches and
pains they suffered, even knowing that the
disease itself might still affect them. Given
a choice between pain, nausea, fever, and
the like while waiting for a possible recovery (or at least feeling comfortable during
the wait), many sufferers during this age
were willing to pay the price, which was
wildly variable, and take the gamble.
Unfortunately, if someone in a later age
acquired a scroll inscribed with this spell,
he would likely have no quick way of
knowing the spell’s true nature (use an
intelligence check on 1d20 after three
hours of study to discover the spell’s actual effects).
by Jean Rabe
Artwork by Jim Holloway
An overview of the Norse lands’ great serpents, part 1
Among the most feared creatures in the
Norse lands are dragons, there called
linnorms, as noted in the AD&D® 2nd
Edition HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook
(VCS). These great wingless and legless
serpents are among the fiercest of the
Norse countries’ denizens, in some cases
even dwarfing the power of the vicious
giants. Fortunately for the Vikings and
other peoples, linnorms are also very rare.
Linnorms, like dragons in traditional
AD&D 2nd Edition campaigns, have 12 age
categories. Linnorms never stop growing,
and the older a linnorm becomes, the
more awesome and frightening it gets,
gaining more abilities, a thicker hide, and
the capability to mete out ever-increasing
amounts of damage. Sages speculate that
the oldest linnorms are insane; centuries
of solitude and a fixation on power and
wealth take a toll on their intellects. This
has not been proven, however, as the only
recorded survivor of a battle with a great
wyrm linnorm was the hero, Sigurd, who
slew the legendary Fafnir.
All linnorms are evil and seek to better
themselves and increase their riches at all
other creatures’ expenses. While some of
the craftier linnorms have been known to
strike up temporary alliances, they turn
on their partners after the great feat they
allied to achieve is accomplished. Most
linnorms are solitary because of their
selfish natures and because they do not
trust their peers, much less other races.
Further, they have no desire to share their
mounds of treasure with anyone. There
are a few exceptions, although family-
oriented linnorms are not the most powerful of the Norse dragons.
This article and one appearing next
month offer a creative expansion of the
types of linnorms that can appear in a
Viking-style AD&D campaign. These monsters can appear in any other sort of
AD&D campaign as well, though their
numbers should be extremely rare at best.
Linnorms and dragons
Linnorms use the same age-related modifiers as do traditional dragons (see Table 1
in the Monstrous Compendium,
GREYHAWK® appendix, “Dragons”). Linnorms of each age category use the same
hit-die, combat, and fear-save modifiers as
do other dragons. However, linnorms do
not generate a fear radius until they reach
the venerable age category. At the venerable stage, a linnorm has a fear radius of 20
yards; at the wyrm stage, 50 yards; and at
great wyrm, 80 yards.
Another marked difference between
linnorms and traditional dragons is their
age categories. Linnorms are left on their
own at much earlier ages than other drag-
ons, sometimes being abandoned as soon
as they hatch. Because of this, a linnorm
grows up fast or dies very young, a victim
of hungry relatives, hostile monsters, or
human adventurers. Use the new table
here for linnorm age categories.
Sages believe some linnorms can live
4,000 years or more, especially the dread
linnorms, frost linnorms, and the Midgard
Serpent. Some speculate that CorpseTearer, an infamous linnorm that torments
the dead, and the well-known Midgard
Serpent attained godlike immortality, and
only their avatars rumble over earth and
sea, respectively.
Combat with linnorms
Each type of linnorm employs a different strategy when dealing with foes. Some
prefer to fight their targets physically, so
their awesome breath weapons and magical abilities do not damage any potential
additions to their treasure hoard currently
on the persons of their foes. Others keep a
distance between them and their foes,
using only breath weapons and long-range
magical attacks to keep the linnorms safe.
No matter the strategy, linnorms use their
attacks to their best advantage, often
playing on their foes’ weaknesses and
fears. There are rarely any survivors of
well-thought-out attacks by linnorms of
the adult age or older.
Linnorms use the biting and tail-slap
tactics of traditional dragons, with the
combat modifier for age added to each
attack. Breath weapons of any sort are
usable three times per day, once every
three rounds, unless otherwise noted.
Being serpentlike, nearly all linnorms lack
claws and wings, though some that can
cast mage spells can use fly spells upon
themselves. Spell-casting linnorms cast
their spells as do dragons, needing neither
prayer nor study; they need only use
verbal components to use them (casting
time: 1). Like traditional dragons, linnorms
make saving throws as fighters of levels
equal to their hit dice, and those of at least
old age are immune to normal missiles.
Like traditional dragons, linnorms have
superior senses of sight, hearing, and
smell. However, because the linnorms are
left on their own at birth in most cases,
their senses are even more acute. All
linnorms are able to detect invisible creatures and objects within a 20’ radius per
age category, and they have a natural
clairaudience ability within the same
range. Linnorms have no telepathic or
psionic abilities.
Linnorm lore
Tales and legends involving linnorms are
prevalent among humans, nokk, nisse,
sjora, huldre, dverge, maahiset, and other
intelligent races of the Norse lands, all
detailed in the VCS. The most commonly
heard stories involve the Midgardsormr—
the world-girdling Midgard Serpent, child
of Loki—and Nidhoggr, Corpse-Tearer.
Nearly all Norse children are also taught
the tale of Fafnir, the dragon slain by
Sigurd. Many believe that humans can
magically become dragons, as Fafnir was
once a man. Other legends hint that
dwarves or giants may also become linnorms. Noble-minded parents teach their
children that excessive greed could cause
them to become linnorms later in life.
Sages believe these legends have some
basis in fact, although they admit the tales
are filled with much embellishment and
stretched truths. Clever sages use the tales
to pinpoint where they believe linnorms
roam. In the fantasy version of medieval
Europe displayed in the VCS, many of the
stories indicate linnorm sightings in Gardariki, Tafestaland, Permia, Karelia, Sweden, and Norway. Only a few stories hint
that linnorms can be found in England, the
Danelaw, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and
Wendland, and among the Volga Bulgars. A
very few stories imply that the linnorms
avoid France, Burgundy, Byzantium, Araby, and northern Africa. Adventurers have
been known to use these tales in this way
in their search for linnorms. Stories of
such adventurers succeeding are rare and
incomplete, perhaps because the adventurers do not want their treasure-take
known, or perhaps because their plans
were cut short by linnorm teeth.
Linnorm Age Categories Table
Very young
Young adult
Mature adult
Very old
Great wyrm
18 JUNE 1992
0-2 years
3-7 years
8-19 years
20-49 years
50-249 years
250-499 years
500-749 years
750-1,199 years
1,200-1,699 years
1,700-2,199 years
2,200-2,799 years
Linnorms in campaigns
Linnorms should be used sparingly. Only
a clever and highly experienced band of
adventurers should confront a linnorm of
the adult age or higher. Prior to encountering a linnorm, the player characters
should hear tales of the feared creature,
stories that greatly exaggerate its abilities
and destructive accomplishments. However, these stories should be tinged with
partial truths and should lead the PCs in
the right direction.
No such encounter should be easy, as
linnorms are fierce, deadly, and possess
acute cunning. Further, if the PCs seriously harm a linnorm, it is more likely to
escape to fight another day than to fight to
the death. The killing of a linnorm is also
sure to attract the unfavorable attention of
other linnorms and equally powerful
monsters, as the linnorm-slayer will be
regarded as another potential rival.
Linnorm, Forest
Any non-arctic forest
Very rare
Average (8-10)
Chaotic evil
1 (5% of 2)
1 (base)
24, SW 12
11 (base)
9 (at 11 HD)
1 bite + special
Spells, breath weapon, surprise
H (21’ base)
Champion (15-16)
A forest linnorm is repugnant, more resembling a huge, grotesque
snake than a dragon. Its slender, serpentine body is a mottled green and
brown that masks its form amid the undergrowth and fallen trees of the
forest. This linnorm, though not as smart as other Norse dragons, possesses a great ego, a natural cunning, and an unending cruelty. It considers no creature above it and hates all creatures possessing above an
animal intelligence, especially beautiful creatures.
At birth, a forest linnorm could be easily confused with a large green
lizard, as it has four legs and a thin, whiplike tail. As the creature matures, the weak legs atrophy, disappearing by the time the linnorm has
reached the young adult stage. Brown splotches begin to appear on its
now snakelike body. Its scales become larger and thicker, offering it
greater protection, and its head widens. Forest linnorms speak the language of all animals in addition to their own language, but they are not
able to converse with humans and demihumans.
Combat: Forest linnorms usually trap their victims, mimicking the
sounds of injured animals to draw humans and demihumans close to
their hiding places (they hide well enough to gain a +2 bonus to surprise rolls). Older specimens use illusions to further deceive their victims, springing when the victims draw near. Their prized targets are
humans, as they view humans as beautiful—and therefore objects to be
injured, punished, and slain. Forest linnorms often choose to use their
breath weapon to weaken powerful opponents before physically attacking or using additional illusions. They tend to fight to the death, viewing
no opponents as too strong and no threat as too dangerous.
Breath Weapon/Special Abilities: A forest linnorm’s breath weapon is a 1’-wide gout of heavy liquid that extends in a straight line 6’ for
each age category the dragon has attained. For example, a juvenile’s
breath weapon extends 24’. The liquid is very acidic in nature, causing
damage and acting as a wither spell to a randomly selected limb of a
victim (the victim is not allowed a saving throw). Forest linnorms cast
Body Lgt.(')
Tail Lgt.(‘)
Breath Weapon
10d4 + 10
10d4 +11
12d4 + 12
spells and use their magical abilities-the details of which follow—at a
level of ability equal to five plus their combat modifier. They are limited
to learning only illusion/phantasm spells.
Forest linnorms are born with a constant invisibility to animals power.
At the young stage, they are able to warp wood, and at the young adult
stage, they can cause plant growth. Upon reaching the mature adult
stage they are able to cause spikegrowth, and at the very old stage, they
can use sticks to snakes. Wyrms and great wyrms are able to pass plant.
Except for invisibility to animals, each of these abilities is usable three
times a day.
Habitat/Society: Forest linnorms are found in wooded areas throughout the Norse lands. No more than one such linnorm will be discovered
within a 100-square-mile area, as they are territorial and will not willingly permit another of their kind within their designated home. The only
exception to this is when these linnorms mate.
Forest linnorms are poor parents. When offspring are born, the male
returns to its own territory. The mother forces the young dragons to
leave her territory when they pass from the hatchling stage.
These monsters make their lairs in densely overgrown sections of forest, wrapping their serpentine bodies about the bases of trees and bushes to become virtually undistinguishable from the roots and trunks.
They prefer temperate weather but are able to stand great extremes of
heat and cold. They usually store their treasure in hollow tree trunks.
These linnorms prize gems and jewelry, but only so they can break them
later. It is rare to find intact objects in a linnorm’s cache, although there
is usually plenty of gold and silver.
Ecology: While forest linnorms are omnivorous, they prefer the flesh
of what they consider attractive creatures, such as stags, eagles, swans,
humans, and demihumans.
Forest linnorms’ natural enemies are thursir and kalevanpojat, giants
who live in the wilderness and hunt the dragons for food and for their
hides. Human heroes are also the bane of forest linnorms, out of the
need to preserve civilization from the dragons’ ravages.
Wizard Spells
Treasure Type
XP Value
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Linnorm, Land
Any non-arctic land
Very rare
Exceptional (15-16)
Chaotic evil
1 (5% of 2)
-1 (base)
18, SW 12, Br 12
13 (base)
7 (at 13 HD)
2 claws/1 bite/1 tail strike + special
Spells, breath weapon
G (48’ base)
Fanatic (17-18)
Land linnorms are driven solely by greed, and they enjoy twisting both
humans and the land to their own corrupt desires.
Unlike many other linnorms, land linnorms have four legs, the forelimbs being useful for combat. The scales of hatchling land linnorms are
small, green, and glisten like gems. As the linnorms age, the scales enlarge, lose their luster, and begin to change at the individual linnorm’s
whim from various shades of greens to browns to grays.
Land linnorms speak their own tongue as well as the languages of all
Norse dragons. Land linnorms learn languages quickly. There is a 10%
chance that a hatchling will be able to magically speak with all intelligent
creatures. The chance to possess this ability increases 10% per age category of the linnorm.
Combat: Land linnorms are cautious, sizing up their intended victims
before engaging them in combat. Land linnorms will sometimes follow a
target for days-in a human or animal form if the linnorm is old enough
to polymorph —before feeling it knows all the target’s strengths and
weaknesses and is ready to attack. Land linnorms carefully plot their
every move before striking, usually beginning an assault with breath
and spells before closing to attack with claws and bite. Land linnorms
use their physical attacks only if they are certain they can best their
victims. They opt to abandon targets that seem too dangerous. These
linnorms prefer to attack small groups of humans and demihumans,
avoiding large groups that might pose a threat.
Breath Weapon/Special Abilities: A land linnorm’s breath weapon
is a blast of heat 120’ long, 5’ wide at the lirmorm’s mouth, and 40’ wide
at the base. All those caught within the cone must save vs. breath weapon for half damage. The searing heat instantly fatigues all those struck
by it, whether or not they successfully save. Fatigued beings have their
strength scores reduced by half (round down). Land linnorms’ runes,
selected at random or by the DM from the VCS, are always successfully
Body Lgt.(‘)
20 JUNE 1992
Tail Lgt.(‘)
- 7
Breath Weapon
1d12 + 1
3d12 + 2
5d12 + 3
7d12 +4
9d12 + 5
13d12 + 7
15d12 + 8
19d12 + 10
21d12 + 11
23d12 + 12
Land linnorms are born able to cast transmute rock to mud and mud
to rock each once a day. In addition, they gain other powers as they age,
each usable three times a day: young— invisibility; young adult—dig; mature adult—polymorph self; very old— stone shape; wyrm —conjure
earth elemental; great wyrm —earthquake.
Habitat/Society: Land linnorms are found in any non-arctic terrain,
although they prefer hills near human communities. High perches allow
them to watch the humans, noting any wealth leaving or entering the
community. They make their lairs in caves; older linnorms use their
stone shape ability to fashion their own homes, complete with traps and
obstacles to kill trespassers.
Land linnorms typically join with others of their kind only to mate, the
pair separating after the offspring have passed beyond the hatchling
stage. The abandoned young linnorms are preyed upon by human and
demihuman adventurers, giants, and other monsters of the land.
However, some land linnorms have been reported to join forces with
others of their kind to attack a strong human or demihuman establishment or a group of humans too large for a single linnorm to consider
taking on. Such alliances are usually brief, ending after the division of
the spoils.
Land linnorms loathe humans and demihumans and go out of their
way to kill them, as the linnorms are intensely jealous of the lesser creatures’ ability to garner wealth. However, a few linnorms have been
known to set aside their hatred, capturing humans with magical skills
and forcing them to instruct the linnorms in new magic runes or to reveal treasures. In a few such cases, the linnorms have formed long-term
partnerships with humans, with the linnorms receiving magical knowledge and material wealth while the humans are allowed to live as long as
they serve their masters. Land linnorms are fond of wealth of any
kind-—old, silver, gems, and especially magic.
Ecology: While land linnorms are capable of eating virtually anything,
including stones, they prefer the flesh of maahisets and dverge. Land
linnorms have no natural enemies.
Treasure Type
A,B,C × 3
A,B,C × 3
A,B,C × 3
XP Value
©1992 TSR, inc. All Rights Reserved.
Linnorm, Sea
Any fresh or salt water
Very rare
Exceptional (15-16)
Lawful evil
1 (5% of 2)
-2 (base)
9, SW 24
13 (base)
7 (at 13 HD)
1 bite/1 tail slash + special
Spells, breath weapon, capsize ships, surprise
G (48' base)
Fanatic (17-18)
Sea linnorms are coldly vicious, hating all humans and demihumans.
They constantly plot to destroy human shipping, constructions, and
settlements. Sea linnorms view humans and demihumans as a threat to
all marine life,
A hatchling sea linnorm is nearly translucent. As the linnorm ages, its
scales become pearly and thick, and they shift color based on the linnorm’s will. From the young age and on, the linnorm is able to make its
scales shift to whatever color desired, as if it were a chameleon. All sea
linnorms have long barbed tails that they employ in combat.
Sea linnorms speak their own language, can communicate with all sea
life, and have a 5% chance per age category of learning how to speak
any human or demihuman language. They can breathe air or water at
Combat: At sea, these linnorms’ favorite form of attack is to come up
beneath ships to capsize them. Only sea linnorms of young age or older
will do this. The attacked ship must make a seaworthiness roll as per the
Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 126. A modifier for the linnorm’s size is
subtracted from the roll, the modifier equalling the linnorm’s combat
modifier multiplied by five. Thus, a Viking longship attacked by an old
sea linnorm has a [60 - (8 × 5)= ] 20% chance to avoid capsizing. Sea linnorms use breath weapons, spells, and special abilities to kill any surviving humans, attacking physically only if necessary.
To attack humans along the coast, the linnorms slither out of the sea at
night, then let loose with spells, magical abilities, and breath weapons at
structures and ships. They then attack any survivors, using breath
weapons, bites, and tail strikes. If seriously wounded, they will retreat
to the sea again-but will plot vengeance all the time.
Breath Weapon/Special Abilities: The breath of sea linnorms is a
cloud of caustic acid droplets that is 60’ long, 60’ wide, and 30’ high. All
those caught within the cloud must save vs. breath weapon for half
Body Lgt.(')
Tail Lgt.(')
- 7
Breath Weapon
2 d 1 0 + l
12d10 + 6
14d10 + 7
16d10 + 8
23d10 + 12
damage. This breath weapon cannot be employed underwater. A sea
linnorm casts its spells at a level equal to eight plus its combat modifier.
Spells they acquire must come from only the Animal, Elemental, and
Weather priest spheres.
Sea linnorms gain the following abilities as they age, each usable twice
a day: very young—wall of fog; young— fog cloud; juvenile— gust of
wind; young adult— solid fog; adult— airy water; mature adult —death
fog; old— raise water; very old— part water; venerable— transmute dust
to water; wyrm— reverse gravity; great wyrm— shape change.
The linnorm’s ability to change the color of its scales also aids it. The
sea linnorm has a chance equal to its magic resistance to be unseen
when attempting to blend in with its surroundings, allowing a +4 to the
roll to surprise foes.
Habitat/Society: Sea linnorms are found in the waters surrounding
Scandinavia and in waters near Permia, Greenland, Scotland, and Ireland. It is rumored they can be found as far south as north Africa.
While they can maneuver equally well above or below the waves, they
spend most of their days underwater, surfacing to attack humans and
demihumans. The lair of a sea linnorm is always found far underwater,
usually in multichambered sea-floor caves. Sea linnorms of mature adult
and older stages frequently have 1-4 giant squid, 2-4 giant sea turtles, or
a kraken guarding their lairs. The linnorms hide treasure in the recesses
of these caves, hoarding gold, silver, and especially gems, jewelry, and
objects of art. Such lairs likely also contain “prizes” from battle: anchors,
sails, and other parts of boats or docks.
Ecology: Despite their great size, sea linnorms require little food. Being
herbivores, they eat primarily sea plants and are especially fond of dried
seaweed, gathering it and placing it on rocky shores, then waiting for it
to become its tastiest in the afternoon sun.
Priest Spells
Treasure Type
D,A,B × 2
D,A,B × 2
D,A,B × 3
D,A,B × 3
D,A,B × 4
XP Value
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Resewed.
Linnorm, Frost
Any arctic or subarctic
Very rare
Genius (17-18)
Neutral evil
-4 (base)
12, Sw 18
15 (base)
5 (at 15 HD)
1 bite/l tail slap + special
Spells, breath weapon
G (48’ base)
Elite (13-14)
nents off-balance. Frost linnorms are
themselves incapable of losing their
balance, timing, or orientation due to
slippery terrain.
Frost linnorms are perhaps the most territorial of all Norse dragons,
never resting until all other intelligent creatures within their domains
are destroyed. They are greedy, covetous, and consider all life—besides
others of their own kind—beneath them.
At birth, frost linnorms appear to have fur rather than scales, but by
the time they have passed through the hatchling stage, small, white,
pearl-like scales appear. As the linnorms age, the scales become thicker
(although not larger) and sharp like jagged ice. The scales are evershifting in color, changing from white to pale blue to transparent to
blend in with the frigid environment. Unlike many other linnorms, frost
linnorms have small forelegs with manipulative claws, though the forelegs are too weak to be used for combat.
All frost linnorms speak their own language and the languages of other Norse dragons. In addition, hatchling frost linnorms have a 25%
chance to magically communicate with any intelligent creature. The
chance to possess this ability increases 15% per age category. By the
time frost linnorms have reached the age category of adult, they can
communicate with any creature with an intelligence of 2 or better.
Combat: More intelligent than most other linnorms, the frost linnorms
spend months scheming and plotting against human settlements they
discover, playing out the battles in their minds until all the strategies are
worked out. Then the linnorms attack in the winter when the weather is
on their side. Unless somehow taken by surprise, frost linnorms will
avoid fighting without such plans. DMs should take such planning into
account and should work out details of an attack to make it as efficient
and deadly as possible.
Frost linnorms play upon their victims’ weaknesses, and always use
breath weapons, runes, and magical abilities before physically fighting.
Further, they will employ any magical items they can use from their lairs
against their chosen foes. Frost linnorms prefer to attack from any location that will put their foes at a disadvantage. They also attempt to keep
their foes fighting on ice, increasing their chances of keeping the oppo-
Body Lgt.(‘)
22 JUNE 1992
Tail Lgt.(‘)
- 1
- 2
- 3
- 4
- 5
- 6
- 7
- 8
- 9
Breath Weapon
ldl0 + 1
3d10 + 2
5dl0 + 3
7dl0 +4
9dl0 + 5
11dl0 + 6
13dl0 + 7
15dl0 + 8
17dl0 + 9
19dl0 + l0
21dl0 + 11
23dl0 + 12
Breath Weapon/Special Abilities: The frost linnorm’s breath weapon is a cloud of ice particles 80’ long, 60’ wide, and 40’ high. All creatures caught in this cloud must save vs. breath weapon for half damage.
Frost linnorms are immune to all forms of natural and magical cold. In
addition, they gain the following abilities as they age, each usable at will
three times a day: young adult—audible glamer, meld into ice; adult—
phantasmal force, ice shape; mature adult— improved phantasmal force,
control temperature 40’ radius; old— spectral force, transmute rock to
ice; very old— heal; venerable— advanced illusion, transport via ice;
wyrm— transmute wood to ice; great wyrm— programmed illusion,
transmute metal to ice. The frost linnorms’ special abilities approximate
similarly named spells from the Player’s Handbook. Frost linnorms use
their spells and magical abilities at a level equal to seven plus their combat modifier. They are always successful in casting rune spells.
Habitat/Society: Frost linnorms are found in frigid climes, moving
south in the winter months to devastate and plunder small human settlements. The older linnorms use their magical abilities to transform their
territory into ice and shape it into elaborate, strikingly beautiful lairs.
Walls and floors within the lairs contain large sections of mirrorlike ice
that the linnorms often sit in front of so they can admire themselves.
Frost linnorms are familial, and the larger a family, the larger the lair
will be. Frost linnorms are perhaps the only Norse dragons that cherish
the company of their own kind, valuing offspring and keeping them
close until the offspring are adults. All offspring are included in the elaborate battle plans the eldest in the family develops.
The smaller the number of frost linnorms encountered, the older they
will be. Single linnorms encountered will always be of the venerable category or older, as only the oldest of linnorms are without family—their
mates dead and their offspring long since left to start their own families.
Frost linnorms bury their treasure within their lairs, usually beneath
sheets of ice that would be difficult for trespassers to locate or move.
They value gems, jewelry, and coins. However, they especially prize
works of art. Some objects they consider too beautiful to hide with their
treasure hoard, and these they place carefully about their lair so they
can be admired.
Ecology: Frost linnorms require little sustenance and do not eat the
creatures they kill. Sages believe these linnorms gain nourishment from
inhaling frigid winds. They seem especially fond of early morning snow
falls, lying on their backs with their mouths open to catch the most succulent flakes.
Treasure Type
XP Value
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Linnorm, Dread
Very rare
Highly (13-14)
-4 (base)
18, SW 12
20 (base)
1 (at 20 HD)
2 bites/l tail slap + special
Spells, breath weapons
Spells, + 1 or better weapon to hit, immunity to certain spells
G (68’ base)
Fanatic (17-18)
Chaotic evil
1 (5% of 2)
Dread linnorms, the only known two-headed Norse dragons, bear a
never-ending hatred for humanity. Their ability to wreak havoc on human settlements is legend. These rarest of linnorms can inhabit any
clime—the most frigid wastes, the warmest of lands, or the deepest of
fjords. While they respect other linnorms and stay clear of their territories, dread linnorms have no qualms about laying low human communities and making their lairs in the ravaged countryside. These horrible
raids have been few and many years between only because of the scarcity of these beasts.
While these great linnorms accumulate vast hoards of wealth over the
course of their long lives, they do not covet gems, precious metals, and
magic as other Norse dragons do. To them, such wealth is merely the
incidental leavings of their conquests, and they never bother to inventory it. They keep treasure only out of instinct.
When dread linnorms hatch, their small, glossy scales are as black as
midnight. As these linnorms age and shed their skins, however, the
scales become duller and larger, shifting from black to gray at the linnorms’ whim. Dread linnorms speak their own tongue and communicate with all other Norse dragons, but they have not been known to
communicate with humans or demihumans.
Combat: Dread linnorms attack with little provocation but considerable forethought. Without exception, each dread linnorm first attacks
with any spells that might injure its foes, then with its twin breath weapons, the left head breathing one round before the right (the heads alternate their attacks every round thereafter until each head has breathed
three times). The few opponents who survive the initial onslaught are
attacked with further spells and breath weapons before the great linnorm decides whether to slither closer to use its twin bites. Some dread
linnorms will continue long-range assaults from the air using the wizard
spell fly (should they possess that spell) until they believe the target is
weak enough to be attacked physically or until the fly spell expires.
Body Lgt.(')
©1992 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Tail Lgt.(‘)
- 7
Breath Weapon
10d8 + 5
12d8 + 6
14d8 + 7
18d8 + 9
20d8 + 10
22d8 + 11
24d8 + 12
Breath Weapon/Special Abilities: The right head of a dread linnorm breathes a magical cone of chilling wind that is 3’ wide at the linnorm’s mouth, 120’ long, and 60’ wide at its terminus. In addition to
causing damage, this breath knocks free-moving victims back 2’ for every point of damage suffered from the breath. The left head of the dread
linnorm breaths a cloud of hot dust 80’ long, 50’ wide, and 30’ high.
Creatures caught in either breath must save vs. breath weapon for half
Dread linnorms are immune to all enchantment/charm spells. In addition, dread linnorms gain the following abilities as they age: juvenile—
telekinesis at will, once per round; adult— move earth four times per
day; old— power word, stun three times per day; venerable— energy
drain at will (must make a successful bite attack); great wyrm—
antipathy-sympathy twice per day. They can also learn wizard spells (select specific spells at random from the spell lists in the Player’s
Handbook). All spells and magical abilities are used at a level equal to
eight plus the linnorm’s combat modifier.
Habitat/Society: Dread linnorms live in desolate places far from the
lairs of other linnorms and the communities of men. They prefer deep,
twisting caverns in which they set up elaborate traps to confuse and kill
trespassers. A dread linnorm shares its lair only when it mates, once
every 40-50 years. The parents stay together until the eggs hatch, then
go their separate ways, leaving the hatchlings to fend for themselves.
The dread linnorm’s lack of regard for its offspring is undoubtedly why
there are so few of them.
Dread linnorms’ treasure is usually scattered throughout their lairs in
various mounds upon which the lirmorms sometimes lie. The treasure is
ill cared for and may include damaged and destroyed goods. Slaves and
prisoners are never taken.
Ecology: Dread linnorms, like other races of Norse dragons, seem to
require little sustenance. However, these great linnorms have acquired a
taste for wood seasoned by salt water and will attack ships to acquire
that treat.
Dread linnorms of the juvenile stage and older have no known predators, except perhaps brave giant bands. However, hatchlings and young
are stalked by giants for food and as trophies, and by human heroes to
limit the monsters’ population.
Wizard Spells
Treasure Type
½H, S
XP Value
by Gregory W. Detwiler
Artwork by James Holloway
Some of the uglier branches of the dragons’ family tree
Swamp Wyrm
CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Subarctic/Lakes
(guivre); Temperate and Subtropical/
Swamp (knucker)
DIET: Carnivore
ALIGNMENT: Neutral evil
NO. APPEARING: 1 (10% of 2)
MOVEMENT: 9, Sw 15
THAC0: 13
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1 or 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 4-16 or 4-16/2-16
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Breath weapon, constriction, surprise
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Half damage from
fire-based (guivre) or frost-based
(knucker) attacks
SIZE: G (30’-40’ long)
MORALE: Steady (12)
XP VALUE: 5,000
Swamp wyrms are huge legless reptiles
that are distantly related to dragons; they
also appear to be related to constrictor
snakes. Their bodies are serpentine, but
their heads are quite draconic. Swamp
wyrms come in two distinct though similar
species: the knucker and the guivre (giv’ray), names given them before it was
realized that they were so closely related.
The olive-hued knucker prefers warm
climates, while the pale-green guivre loves
cold ones. They can breathe water or air
with equal ease.
Combat: The swamp wyrm’s favored
hunting method is to lie barely submerged
in murky water (it can see perfectly
to hunt food (most animals soon learn to
avoid the poisonous lakes these creatures
inhabit). A few prefer to live near weakly
defended civilized areas, or at least ones
near major rivers that lead to these places,
to assure plenty of human or humanoid
prey and the domestic animals associated
with them. Unlike dragons, swamp wyrms
eat frequently, destroying all wildlife, and
they are sometimes considered more of a
problem than certain dragons are.
Swamp wyrms rest at the top of their
local food chain, but they actively destroy
the local ecology around their lakes and
ravage the wildlife nearby. Adventurers
and large monsters are their only true
enemies, but most swamp wyrms live
where neither foe is in great supply. Numerous uses have been rumored for their
body parts, particularly the many glands
under their scales that give off the wateraffecting secretion.
through it), then grab anything that comes
down to drink. This tactic gives it a +2
bonus to surprise. A swamp wyrm fights
using a bite-constriction combination. If it
can successfully bite an opponent, it then
attempts to wrap its body around the foe
(requiring another attack roll). A successful hit means the victim has been caught
in the swamp wyrm’s coils and can be
crushed starting on the following round;
the victim can also be bitten with a +4 to
the swamp wyrm’s attack roll, the victim
gaining no dexterity or shield bonuses,
once per round thereafter. Each wyrm
also has a breath weapon: a 30’ cone, 5’
wide at the base and 15’ at its terminus.
The breath weapon does 4-40 hp damage
(half with a saving throw vs. breath weapons). The guivre (surprisingly) breathes
fire, and the knucker breathes frost. In
general, the breath weapon will be saved
for emergencies or obviously dangerous
opponents, as it can be used only three
times a day. A swamp wyrm will also take
only half damage from attack forms similar to its breath weapon (i.e., fire and heat
for the guivre, and frost and cold for the
Habitat/Society: Swamp wyrms make
their homes in remote wilderness areas, in
small, still lakes called either “knucker
holes” or “guivre pools,” depending on the
occupant. The water temperature is
strongly affected by a magical secretion
from the swamp wyrms’ scales. Guivre
pools are always steaming hot, melting
snow and ice around them like hot
26 JUNE 1992
springs, while knucker holes are chill, fogshrouded, and sometimes iced over, killing
all vegetation around them. Stagnant waters from these lakes are poisonous to all
except swamp wyrms and other reptiles,
thanks to the secretion; those drinking the
water must save vs. poison or suffer 1-4
hp damage per round for 1-6 rounds.
Like dragons, swamp wyrms prefer to
live alone, coming together only in the
spring for mating though they rarely if
ever fight with one another. Male and
female swamp wyrms of either species
collect treasure hoards, which they display
to all other visiting wyrms. The wyrms
with the most treasure in their hoards
have first pick of the available members of
the opposite sex for purposes of mating,
leading many sages to suppose that drag
ons gather treasure for similar reasons
(although this isn’t particularly true). This
seems to be the only reason they bother to
collect treasure, as they never use it to
bargain, either to gain allies or to save
their own lives. Swamp wyrms give birth
to 1-4 young three months after mating.
Swamp wyrms speak only a very crude
language (dubbed Wyrmic), reserving their
brain power for discovering clever ways
to capture prey. They will eagerly fight all
other large creatures besides themselves,
including dragons, in order to gain more
Ecology: Swamp wyrms are fierce carnivores, living on any creatures that come
too near their pools. They often slither
into nearby bodies of water, even oceans,
CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Variable (see text)
FREQUENCY: Very rare
DIET: Carnivore
ALIGNMENT: Variable, but always evil
NO. APPEARING: 1 (20% of 2)
ARMOR CLASS: Variable (see text)
THAC0: 15
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-8/1-6/2-12
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Breath weapon
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to attacks
similar to those of breath weapon
SIZE: H (20’ long)
MORALE: Steady (11)
The lindworm is a deficient form of evil
dragon, one that may be born to a black,
blue, green, red, or white dragon. This
may be due to a curse of the gods or simply nature’s way of insuring that the population of true dragons doesn’t grow too
large. Either way, the lindworm, while
formidable, is not nearly as dangerous as a
regular dragon. It looks like a two-legged
dragon, rather like a wyvern, but without
wings or the wyvern’s poison stinger. The
lindworm has a typically draconic head
and long neck, but the creature’s body is
built like that of a huge scaly bird. Its
color and other details of its appearance
are similar to those of its parents.
Combat: The lindworm has three physical attacks: a bite (1-8 hp), a clawing attack
(1-6 hp; only one clawing attack can be
made, since the lindworm must have one
leg to stand on), and a tail lash (1-12 hp).
No lindworm can cast spells, but they do
inherit their parents’ breath weapon,
which has only half the physical dimensions of the usual form and does 5d8 hp
damage (half if a successful save vs. breath
weapons is made). The breath attack may
be used three times a day. All lindworms
are also immune to attack forms similar to
those of their breath weapons (e.g., fire
and heat for the lindworm spawn of red
dragons). As a final defense, the lindworm’s armor class is equal to the parent
dragon’s base armor class.
Habitat/Society: Lindworms are the
result of a dragon couple’s breeding failures (one appearing every 100 births), and
as such they are quickly driven forth from
the den. Eighty percent of the time, only
one lindworm is encountered; otherwise,
there are twins. Because they are effectively banished from draconic society,
lindworms are extremely vicious, selfish,
bitter creatures seeking revenge on the
world. Twins are quite loyal to each other,
as each is the only creature in the world
that provides companionship for the other.
If one is killed or injured, the other attacks
with no thought for its own life (Morale
20). They speak their parents’ natural
tongue only, but rarely speak before or
instead of attacking. Lindworms have no
true society, despising even each other
unless they are twins.
Continued on page 32
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.
This month, our sage addresses more
AD&D® DARK SUN™ campaign questions,
then “re-sages” two past questions.
Were templars, gladiators, rangers,
bards, and psionicists deliberately
left off the multiclassed character
table? If a multiclassed demihuman
were a gladiator/ranger, would he
add the extra weapon attacks he
gets from his gladiator level and
weapon specialization to the two
attacks he gets each round as a
Take a closer look at the rules and table
on pages 38-39 of the DARK SUN Rules
Book. Several psionicist combinations are
listed there. If you check the notes immediately following the multiclassed table on
page 39, you’ll see that the templar, ranger,
and bard can be substituted for the cleric,
fighter, and thief, respectively, in most
cases. Gladiators cannot be part of a multiclass combination. No fighter/fighter combinations exist; no combinations list a
major class more than once, because no
character in any AD&D game setting can
use subclasses of the same class in a multior dual-classed combination.
If you have a taste for really far-out
variants, fine, but don’t bring the problems they create to “Sage Advice.” However, since you’ve gotten me started, note
that rangers don’t get two attacks a round.
What rangers get is the ability to use a
secondary weapon without penalty. A
secondary weapon gives a character exactly one extra attack each round. Multiple
attacks from level or specialization apply
only to the primary weapon. Of course, a
haste spell and similar magicks do grant
double the normal number of attacks. In
this case, the character gets two attacks
with the secondary weapon and twice his
normal allotment of attacks with the primary weapon.
Can templars cast quest spells?
Can defilers and preservers opt to
become wild mages? How are the
new clerical spheres from the Tome
of Magic used on Athas?
Under the right circumstances, templars, druids, and elemental priests can get
quest spells. The section on quest spells in
the Tome of Magic (pages 10-13) gives
guidelines for helping the DM decide what
the right circumstances are.
Both preservers and defilers can become
wild mages.
The newly released Dragon Kings hardbound book for the DARK SUN campaign
contains complete information on integrating the Tome of Magic's new spheres into
DARK SUN campaigns.
What do priests on Athas use for
holy symbols?
This is up to the DM. Templars probably
use their badge of office or their sorcererking’s seal. Elemental priests might use the
Athasian symbol for their element; Tim
Brown, one of the designers of the DARK
SUN boxed set, points out that the rules
for turning undead on Athas (Rules Book,
page 70) seem to suggest that a small quantity of the priest’s element might suffice as
a holy symbol. Druids might use pieces of
foliage, chunks of stone, or handfuls of
dirt from their guarded lands.
Can Athasian psionicists have wild
No. Nor can psionicists on any other
AD&D game world. Psionicists enjoy the
full range of their profession’s psychic
powers instead of having wild talents.
Why can’t thri-kreen wear magical
rings and cloaks? Can they wear
magical boots and gauntlets?
Thri-kreen can wear rings, cloaks, boots,
and gauntlets, but only if the items are
made to fit thri-kreen; see the Rules Book,
page 16. Items made for humans or demihumans just don’t fit thri-kreen, as such
items either are too small or are entirely
the wrong shape.
The Racial Ability Requirements
table (Rules Book, page 3) allows no
scores lower than 5 or higher than
20. However, the Racial Ability Adjustments section (same page) says
no adjusted score can be lower than
3 or higher than 24. Can racial adjustments alter the initial limits?
The “limits” on Athas are a minimum of
3 and a maximum of 24. The Racial Ability
Requirements table does not denote limits.
A new character must have scores that fall
within the listed range of the Racial Ability
Requirements table before any racial
adjustments are applied (Rules Book, page
3, last line under the heading “Minimum
and Maximum Ability Scores” and note the
word “before” in boldface type).
What are the per-round movement
rates for the various Athasian races?
The Rules Book only gives overland
movement rates.
The rates are as follows: human, 12;
dwarf, 6; elf 12, half-elf, 12, half-giant 15,
halfling, 6; mul, 12; thri-kreen, 18.
How far can a mul or thri-kreen
move in a 20-hour marching day?
These races get double movement points
if they go the full 20 hours (for muls, 48 or
60 on a forced march; for thri-kreen, 72 or
90 on a forced march). Check out the
overland movement rules in the Rules
Book, pages 87-88, for details.
Do Athasian elves automatically
receive the Running proficiency?
No, but they can add their constitution
scores to their daily overland movement
rates. It is this ability, not a universal running proficiency, that accounts for their
legendary overland speed. Note that this
ability is generally safer and more reliable
than the Running proficiency because it
does not require a proficiency check or
impose a combat penalty (Player’s Handbook, page 63).
Do Athasian dwarves have infravision? I can’t find a reference to it
anywhere in the DARK SUN rules.
I can’t find it either. This was an oversight due to some lost text. Athasian elves
do have infravision (Rules Book, page 6). I
suggest giving 60’ infravision to Athasian
dwarves, half-elves, and halflings.
When you first build a character
tree, are all the characters third
Yes. At the start of play, all single-classed
PCs are 3rd level and multiclassed PCs are
2nd level in the most “expensive” class.
However, inactive characters added to a
tree to replace slain characters always
start at 1st level. Note that any inactive
character on a tree can gain levels according to the rules on page 41 of the Rules
Book. The point of having a character tree
is to give the player a stable of replacement characters who are better than 1st
level, not to take all the sting out of character death. Smart players will manage
their character trees so their inactive
characters reach 3rd level as quickly as
I have a player who’s constantly
after me to allow his character to
acquire a chemistry or alchemy
proficiency. This seems pretty highbrow to me, especially on a planet
where a magnifying glass is regarded as a mysterious type of magic.
What would a chemistry or alchemy
proficiency do on an AD&D game
world, anyway?
Generally, Athasians are a pretty sharp
lot. While the introductory tale “A Little
Knowledge” (by Jerry Oltion) includes a
character who is mystified by a chunk of
glass, this is far from the norm. As Tim
Brown (Lake Geneva’s DARK SUN world
martinet) points out, most Athasians, with
their exposure to elemental priestly magic
and their survival skills, have more knowledge about the way their world works
than common folk in most places.
Still, exact sciences such as chemistry
are all but unknown in the magical worlds
of the AD&D game. Chemistry is replaced
by alchemy, which is a complex and esoteric art that is much better suited to sages
(Dungeon Master’s Guide, pages 106-108)
than to adventurers who spend their time
and intellectual energy learning characterclass abilities. In any case, alchemy is too
complex to be covered in a single proficiency. I suppose a true alchemist might
have nonweapon proficiencies in Brewing,
Astrology, Herbalism, Mineralogy, Spellcraft, Engineering, and, optionally, Pottery
or Glassblowing (a previously undescribed
proficiency). The character would have to
use his combined knowledge of all these
subjects to tackle any particular problem.
Does the Water Find proficiency
allow a half-giant to locate four gallons of water? Can a thri-kreen give
the water he finds with the Water
Find proficiency to other characters?
No character who successfully uses the
Water Find proficiency suffers a constitution loss due to dehydration (Rules Book,
page 46). This does not necessarily mean
that the character actually finds his full
daily requirement of water, which varies
according to the character’s race, armor,
and level of activity. In fact, since Water
Find does not allow a character to rehydrate, it’s pretty clear that the character
30 JUNE 1992
usually finds something less than a full
day’s supply. As for giving away any water
found, there’s no reason to assume the
character actually finds drinkable water;
the proficiency might yield just a trickle of
liquid water and several mouthfuls of
soggy cactus pulp. While half-giants and
thri-kreen might be able to choke down
many different forms of nonliquid water,
not every character can. I suggest that you
place some limit on the amount of water
actually available for sharing, say 1d4 + 1
pints. Note also that thri-kreen usually
have better things to do with their nonweapon proficiency slots that spend them
on Water Find, since they need so little
water (DARK SUN Rules Book, page 86).
Do merchant houses do any buy
ing or selling at their headquarters?
Are goods and coins the only forms
of payment accepted at merchant
Only members or agents of a merchant
house are allowed to enter a house’s headquarters; this precludes normal transactions between the house and ordinary
customers. I suppose that very special
deals with other houses or special customers might be negotiated inside the
headquarters, but only if extra security is
necessary to keep rival merchant houses
from getting wind of the deal and only if
no city laws are being broken (no merchant house would ever run the risk of
having its headquarters raided by the local
As far as methods of payment go, nothing beats cash or bartered goods in the
hand, especially on Athas, where it is very
easy to go into the desert and either deliberately disappear to avoid a debt or accidentally fall victim to the planet’s many
dangers. Either way, the merchant is out
his goods and probably will become a
laughing stock to boot. Some merchants
might be willing to grant credit or accept
services in lieu of cash or goods on the
spot, but only if the terms are very favorable to the merchant and the buyer is
either extremely famous or a trusted,
long-time customer.
I don’t understand the weapons
chart on page 53 of the Rules Book.
It looks like the column headings
should be moved over one space,
but if you do that, where does the
“Damage” heading go?
This is the kind of typo that gives rules
editors ulcers. Most of the column headers
are one column too far left and should be
shifted one column to the right. The “Damage” heading actually goes above the last
two columns, which are “S-M” and “L” for
the damage done by weapons to beings of
different sizes. The columns should read:
Weapon name [no heading actually used],
Cost, Wt [weight in pounds], Size, Type,
Speed [for modifying initiative rolls; see PH,
page 94], [Damage] S-M, and [Damage] L.
What are the range categories and
rate of fire for the chatkcha?
Generally, the AD&D game divides missile ranges into thirds, so short range for
the chatkcha (with a maximum range of 90
yards) should be 30 yards or less, medium
31-60 yards, and long 61-90 yards. I suggest the rate of fire be one each round,
the same as a hand axe.
I pretty much understand how to
calculate how many Psionic
Strength Points a character with a
wild talent gets. But how many PSPs
does a character with more than one
wild psionic talent have? And what
do you do with talents where the
PSP cost to establish or maintain the
power varies?
To assign PSPs to a character with a wild
psionic talent, use the procedure described on page 20 of The Complete Psionics Handbook. When a power has a
variable PSP cost, the character gets PSPs
equal to the minimum cost to establish and
maintain the power. For example, a character with the wild talent of Domination
gets 27 PSPs for that power (3 PSPs is the
minimum cost to use the power once, plus
the minimum maintenance cost of 6 PSPs,
times four). If the character has more than
one power, he gets the full allotment of
PSPs for each power. That is, determine
how many PSPs the character would get
for each power, then add them together to
get the character’s actual PSP total. Note
that a character with multiple wild talents
still gets only four extra PSPs for each
experience level gained.
What do you do with talents that
have prerequisites? Are these like
college courses in that you must
have all the prerequisites before
you can have the talent in question?
To get a power with prerequisites, a
character must have all the prerequisites
before gaining the power. In college, you
sometimes can get the prerequisites
waived; that never happens for PCs. However, characters frequently can be granted
all a power’s prerequisites along with the
power. This is always the case with newly
gained wild talents. For instance, the character with Domination in the previous
example automatically would have both
Mindlink and Contact (the character also
would get extra PSPs for those prerequisite powers).
What happens when a DARK SUN
character has ability scores so high
that the character’s psionic power
scores are 20 or higher—for example, a character with a wisdom of 22
using the contact power (where the
power score is equal to the character’s wisdom score)?
A roll of 20 is always a failure when
using a psionic power (TCPH, page 11),
and it might also carry other penalties. In
theory, a character with a power score of
more than 20 cannot take advantage of the
“skill score” optional rule (TCPH, page 11,
and page 28, “Optional Results”) since you
can’t roll an unmodified 21 or higher on
1d20. Kind referees might allow such
characters to have an effective score of 19
for purposes of using the “skill score” rule.
Some of the animals listed on the
chart for the Animal Affinity psionic
power (TCPH, page 50) don’t fit the
DARK SUN setting. How many
sharks, barracuda, or crocodiles are
there on Athas? How about an alternate table?
There are no sharks, barracuda, or
crocodiles on Athas. (According to Tim
Brown, there never were any on Athas;
the planet’s flora and fauna are vastly
different from what is found on other
AD&D game worlds.) Still, there probably
were creatures like them on Athas at one
time or another, and I don’t see any real
problem with using the table just as it is. If
you want to give this power a true Athasian flavor, get out your Wanderer’s Journal and your Monstrous Compendium
DARK SUN Appendix and make a few
substitutions. Here’s an unofficial list:
rasclinn for barracuda, kank or wild kank
soldier for crocodile, athasian sloth for
elephant, jozhal for percheron (draft
horse), and megapede for shark. I’ll stop
there and assume the other animals have
Athasian equivalents.
quent spells would be of the defiler type.
How such a switch might be accomplished— if it is possible at all—is entirely
up to the DM.
The rules describe the preserver
and defiler classes in just about
every detail except one: spell progression. The rules say that defilers
get spells more quickly that preservers, but nowhere do the rules
give a spell progression table for
either class!
Both classes use the spell progression
table for wizards in the Players Handbook,
page 30. The rules do not say that defilers
get spells faster than preservers, but page
26 of the Rules Book does point out that
defilers advance through the levels very
quickly. A comparison of the defiler
experience table from page 27 of the Rules
Book with the standard wizard experience
table (PH, page 30), which preservers use,
will bear this out.
If an Athasian wizard has his spell
books destroyed or taken away, can
he get new ones?
Yes. The minimum cost of doing this is
listed in the spell books section of the
DMG (page 42). The DM might also assign
additional costs and time requirements.
Check out the following sections of the
DMG for guidelines: spell research (pages
43-44), scroll research (page 41), and scroll
creation (pages 85-87). Note that all
sorcerer-kings consider magic treasonous,
which makes recreating spell books inside
cities pretty dangerous. Being a member
of a veiled alliance would be a great boon
to a wizard attempting to recreate lost
spell books.
When, exactly, does a half-giant
change alignment? The section on
half-giants on pages 9-11 of the
Rules Book says a half-giant must
choose an alignment each morning
(page 10). The section on half-giants
and alignment on page 42 also starts
out saying half-giants must choose
an alignment each morning, but in
the same paragraph it also says a
half -giant may change alignment
each morning, but change isn't
I’ll admit that there’s a bit of a semantic
trap in the rules governing the shifting
alignments of half-giants. While half-giants
truly must choose an alignment each
morning, they are free to “choose” the
same alignment they have been following.
A change in alignment is optional and
occurs only when the DM and the player
agree that the prevailing circumstances
make it possible. In other words, a player
with a half-giant character should consider
what has happened to the character each
Since thri-kreen don’t sleep, how
do they regain PSPs or spells?
In pretty much the same way other
characters do. To regain spells, a thrikreen must be at rest, as inactive as a
sleeping character would be, and must
maintain this state for as long as any other
spell-caster would have to sleep. Thrikreen regain PSPs at the rates given in the
TCPH, page 14, Table 6. To regain PSPs at
the sleeping rate, a thri-kreen must be
completely inactive as described above.
Note that the psionicist’s Rejuvenation
proficiency isn’t particularly useful to thrikreen.
Since defiler magic is easier to use
than preserver magic, can a preserver opt to use it in appropriate
circumstances, such as while standing in a sorcerer-king’s garden?
Since defiler magic is a simpler,
cruder form of magic, is alignment
the only thing that keeps a preserver from using it?
Defiler magic is not available to preservers under any circumstances. A preserver learns to craft spells so the energy
they require is replaced rather than simply being drained from the land. This
element of balance is integral to all a preserver’s spells and cannot be deliberately
omitted. I suppose a preserver could
switch to defiler magic; in such cases,
however, the character would have to
effectively switch classes so that all subseDRAGON 31
day and decide if the character’s alignment
should shift. If, for example, the predominately good party the character has been
adventuring with falls into a squabble over
water or treasure, the DM and the player
might decide it’s time to shift the halfgiant’s alignment toward the chaotic or
evil end of the spectrum. Remember, halfgiants are inveterate imitators; they follow
where their companions and neighbors
lead, but their alignments don’t shift without reason.
Exactly how long does a piece of
land remain barren after a defiler
turns it to ash?
Nothing will grow in the area for at least
one full year, but it usually takes much
more time than that, perhaps decades, for
the area to fully recover; some areas never
recover (Rules Book, page 61). Exact recovery time is up to the DM.
On the experience table (Rules
Book, page 63), do fighters get 10 XP
per level, per hit die, per creature,
per battle, or per their own level for
opponents defeated? What do
thieves get?
All characters get experience for defeating opponents according to the rules in
the DMG, pages 46-47. When a fighter
single-handedly defeats an opponent, the
DM might decide to award extra experience under the Individual Experience
Awards optional rule (DMG, page 48). The
award for fighters is 10 XP times the defeated opponent’s level or hit dice, times
the fighter’s level. The award for bards is
only 5 XP times the defeated opponent’s
level or hit dice.
What is the terrain cost for roads
on Athas?
This depends on the individual roads
construction and present condition. I
suggest you use the terrain modifier for
the prevailing terrain × ½, with a minimum cost of 1. For example, using a road
to traverse stony barrens is 1; using a road
to cross salt flats also is 1, as the surface
on any road on Athas isn’t going to be
much smoother than a salt flat. Note that
you can’t get lost while traveling on a road
(even if you aren’t exactly sure where
you’re going).
How many globs of honey will a
kank produce each day?
This is up to the DM, but I recommend
that a well-fed, food-producing, domestic
kank secrete no more than one glob each
day. Note that not all kanks are food producers. The rules don’t give ratios, but I
suggest that only half of any group of
kanks be food producers. Of the remainder, one will be the brood queen and the
rest will be soldiers, none of which produce honey. Note also that brooding kanks
produce honey for their offspring, and the
young kanks will eat a substantial portion
of the honey, say 20%-60%, before charac-
32 JUNE 1992
ters can harvest it. Characters who try to
keep the young kanks from the honey are
likely to have a fight on their hands, the
domestic kank’s reputation for docility
I am formulating plans to have my
spelljamming group touch down on
Athas. How would Athasians react
to the appearance of a spelljammer?
Would “normal” wizards cast preserver or defiler magic?
As “Sage Advice” pointed out in issue
#178, spelljammers cannot reach Athas.
Exactly why this is so is unrevealed, but
the prevailing theory is that Athas is not
located inside a crystal sphere but on an
alternate Prime Material plane where
spelljamming devices don’t work.
I suspect that wildspacefaring characters
would not find Athas a welcoming place at
any rate. While common folk might not be
any more suspicious of spacefarers than
they are of any other strangers, sorcererkings are a different matter. Once these
tyrants realize what spelljamming is and
what it can do, they’re going to ruthlessly
attack, not giving up until the spacefarers
flee the planet or are killed or enslaved.
(Of course, such an attack could begin
disguised as a friendly overture.) A single
spelljamming ship, even at atmospheric
speeds, would be an invaluable fighting
and exploration platform on Athas. No
sorcerer-king would allow one to exist
unless it was firmly under his control.
Since preserver magic uses the same
rules as “normal” magic, I think it’s safe to
assume that a plane-hopping wizard who
finds himself on Athas would have preserver spells. I suppose such a wizard
could learn the local “shortcuts” and become a defiler, but that’s up to the DM.
Re-saging: I have received several
letters about an answer that appeared in
issue #175. AD&D® 2nd. Edition game
characters gain bonus proficiency slots if
they have high intelligence scores, and a
reader asked if these bonus slots could be
assigned to both weapon and nonweapon
proficiencies. I said I believed the extra
slots can be assigned only to nonweapon
A number of readers have correctly
pointed out that The Complete Fighter’s
Handbook contains a passage that clearly
states the extra slots can be assigned to
both types of proficiencies (page 58). However, when I answered the question, I
assumed the reader who asked it didn’t
have The Complete Fighter’s Handbook.
Note that everything in the various Complete Handbooks is strictly optional; generally speaking, I recommend that you do
not allow bonus proficiency slots to be
used for weapon proficiencies. On the
other hand, if you have The Complete
Fighter’s Handbook and want to make full
use of all the goodies therein, you probably do want to let warriors use their bonus slots on weapon proficiencies. I
strongly recommend that you limit this
ability to warriors only, unless you’re
prepared to deal with 1st-level wizards
who want proficiency in eight weapons (or
more than eight if you’ve got a campaign
set in the DARK SUN world).
I have also recently received a letter
regarding this column in issue #167, in
which I flatly said all spells of the Divination school were off-limits to conjurers
(wizards specializing in the Conjuration/
Summoning school). I goofed. The section
on spell schools in the Player’s Handbook
(page 31, top of the third column) makes it
clear that first- through fourth-level Divinations are available to all wizards. This
gives conjurers access to such vital spells
as read magic.
Dragon’s Bestiary
Continued from page 27
Ecology: The lindworm has no ingrained
hunting technique, having to learn
through trial and error. (Even if dragons
knew how to kill through instinct instead
of being taught by their parents, the
lindworm’s lack of wings and forelimbs
would make this knowledge useless.) All
lindworm hunting methods are essentially
variants on the ambush: hiding in thick
brush or woods, waiting behind boulders,
sitting submerged in murky water, or
burying itself in sand or snow (depending
on the lindworm’s parentage and
environment). Lindworms eat anything
they can catch and are almost always
hungry, a state that only adds to their
generally bad dispositions. They don’t
value treasure for its own sake as their
parents do, but often leave the spoils of a
previous hunt as bait for intelligent prey.
Though dangerous, lindworms are often
deposed from the top of the local food
chain by even more dangerous predators.
Dragons who were not their birth parents
will willingly slay them out of hand,
without eating the bodies; other powerful
monsters find them to be interesting prey,
and adventurers regularly reduce their
ranks. Wizards have yet to find a use for
lindworm parts.
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simply write your name and address
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with your payment to:
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DRAGON is a registered trademark of TSR, Inc.
©1991 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TSR's fearless authors will be returning
to the gothic fantasy RAVENLOFT™ campaign setting for two novels in 1992. Both
Dance of the Dead and Heart of Midnight
break new ground for the book line, with
34 JUNE 1992
stories set in the domains of Souragne and
Dance of the Dead, available in July,
reveals some of the fantastic secrets of
Souragne, the island realm of zombie lord,
Anton Misroi. RAVENLOFT novel veteran
Christie Golden—of Vampire of the Mists
fame—spins the tale of Larissa Snowmane,
a dancer aboard a magical riverboat.
When the boat arrives at the undeadplagued island of Souragne, she finds
herself dancing to chilling music indeed.
to save her won soul, she must confront
Souragne's evil master and learn the darkly powerful Dance of the Dead.
Golden, whose first novel was confined
to the well-detailed domain of Barovia, was
happy to explore a new part of the
RAVENLOFT world. Its wide range of
settings and characters is especially ap-
pealing to her.
“Ravenloft is a dream come true for
fantasy and horror writers. These are two
of my favorite genres, and I really enjoy
working on tales that combine them. It’s a
place of staggering variety—of characters,
geography, and cultures. Look at what
kind of beings it’s ‘peopled’ with: high-born
wererats in a French-influenced realm,
gothic heroes and monsters inspired by
British literature, riverboating werewolves, poisoners, liches, and gypsy sorceresses. This sort of thing is a gold mine
for writers. There’s plenty in the
RAVENLOFT setting to fuel many more
novels full of richly developed characters
and terrifying events.”
Golden drew upon her own background
as a dancer for her depiction of Larissa’s
artistic skills. Other inspirations for Dance
of the Dead include such wildly varied
elements as musical theater, Southern
folklore, voodoo tales, Creole cooking,
Peter Pan, and Watership Down. The
resulting novel, though, is true to the
RAVENLOFT setting’s vision—equal helpings of fantasy and gothic horror.
Keeping a suitably grim tone for Dance
of the Dead proved difficult for Golden,
even though she’s written in the series
before. The hardest thing for Golden was
to remember the constraints of the
RAVENLOFT setting. “[T]hat means rotten
things happen to the characters you like.
The urge for an unequivocally happy
ending was difficult to curb sometimes.”
J. Robert King, author of Heart of Midnight, agrees that the dark, gloomy nature
of the RAVENLOFT world presents a serious challenge to the series’ writers, who
must spend hours upon hours thinking
about the land and its unfortunate inhabitants. “When I finished writing and my
wife finished reading Heart of Midnight,
we both felt a desperate need for light and
air and levity.”
King is quick to note, however, that the
very thing that makes RAVENLOFT novels
difficult to write is also their greatest
“The RAVENLOFT world is TSR’s best
stage for tragedy,” King points out. “In the
other shared worlds—the FORGOTTEN
REALMS® and DRAGONLANCE® settings,
especially—good usually triumphs, and
that victory provides the emotional satisfaction you feel when you finish the book.
In the RAVENLOFT setting, that catharsis
comes from experiencing the tragic fate
that most often befalls the main character.”
Heart of Midnight, on sale in December,
certainly provides a story of a tragic
doom. The story centers on Casimir, who
inherits his fathers lycanthropic curse
even before he’s born. Though he fights
against the curse of the werewolf, he must
eventually embrace his dark powers to
ward off a murderer and gain revenge
upon his monstrous father. Yet any triumph Casimir achieves may well lead to
his destruction; in Kartakass, no powerful
creature long escapes the notice of the
villainous darklord, Harkon Lukas.
Like Dance of the Dead, King’s novel has
its roots in a wide variety of sources, some
classical and some not.
“Heart of Midnight draws its inspiration
from stories of temptation and corruption.
Paradise Lost and Faust provided templates for Harkon Lukas’s character, especially as it relates to the seduction of
Casimir. Also, I drew upon dramas of fatal
indecision, like Hamlet, for Casimir’s
friend, Thoris. The tragic and tormented
monster from Frankenstein surely influenced the character of Casimir himself, as
did the novel Grendel.”
When pressed, King admits with a laugh
that all the sources for Heart of Midnight
are not so high-brow. “Well, to be completely honest, the soul of the book owes
just as much to old black-and-white horror
films, such as The Invisible Man, The
Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Dracula.”
After Heart of Midnight, King will
plunge right back into the domains of the
RAVENLOFT world. His next book, Carnival of Fear, will be released in the summer
of 1993. Spring 1993 will see the release of
Tapestry of Dark Souls, by Elaine Bergstrom, author of the excellent vampire
novels Blood Rites, Shattered Glass, and
Blood Alone for Berkley. Finally, 1993 also
promises the start of the Ebonacht Trilogy;
the first book in the series, The Screaming
Tower, ships at the end of the year. It’s
written by some guy named Jim Lowder,
the same one who penned Knight of the
Black Rose.
So close the shutters and bar the door,
get out your wolfsbane and garlic, then
gather around so these intrepid storytellers can share their visions of the Dark
Domains with you.
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MOBI-CON ‘92, June 12-14
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: MOBICON INC., P.O. Box 161257, Mobile AL 36616.
June 12-13
This convention will be held at the IUSB
campus in South Bend, Ind. Events include an
RPGA™ tournament and role-playing, board, and
historical- and fantasy-miniatures games. Other
activities include demo games, a flea market, a
dealers’ area, raffles, contests, and door prizes.
For more information and costs, send an SASE
to: St. Joseph Valley gamers, 121 W. Colfax,
South Bend IN 46601.
This convention will be held at the Days Inn in
Tulsa, Okla. Events include AD&D®, D&D®,
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.
This gaming convention will be held at the
Quality Inn South in Madison, Wis. Events
include RPGs, war games, miniatures battles,
and a games auction. Other activities include a
dealers’ area. Dealers are welcome. Registration:
$5, with no game fees. Write to: Pegasus Games,
6640 Odana Rd., Madison WI 53719; or call:
(608) 833-GAME.
This convention will be held at the Hyatt
Atlanta Airport and the Georgia Convention &
Trade Center. Guests include Peter Bromley,
Ann Goetz, Beverly Hale, and Mike Moe. Write
to: Atlanta Fantasy Fair, 4175 Eliza Ct., Lithonia
GA 30058; or call: (404) 985-1230.
GLASSCON ‘92, June 20-21
Note: This convention was previously listed
as taking place on May 30-31. The convention
dates have since been changed to those listed
above. 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*,
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 $l/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.
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 talk (717) 774-6676.
ARCON 8, June 26-28
This convention will be held in the Vilhelm
Bjerknes building of the University of Oslo in
Oslo, Norway. Events include AD&D® championship tournaments, with CALL OF CTHULHU*,
activities include board-game tournaments, a
miniatures-painting competition, WWII miniatures games, and movies. Registration: NOK 125
by IMO until June 13; NOK 175 at the door.
Write to: ARCON, P.O. Box 46, Blindem, N-0314
Oslo, NORWAY; or call Geir Aalberg at: +47-256-39-45.
LEGACY ‘92, June 26-28
This convention will be held at the Comfort
Inn Convention Center in Arlington, Tex. 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 24hour hotline: (214)601-9032 and enter 6552#.
POLYCON X, June 26-28
This gaming convention will be held at the
Embassy Suites hotel, in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Guests include Loyd Blankenship, Tom Dowd,
Scott Haring, and Mike Stackpole. Activities
include game showcases, seminars, games, a
writers’ workshop, an art gallery, an auction,
and a miniatures-painting contest. For more
information and costs, write to: P.O. Box 4526,
San Luis Obispo CA 93403.
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.
July 2-5
This convention will be held at the Sheraton
Park Central hotel in Dallas, Tex. Guests include
Diane Duane, Alan Gutierrez, Kristine Kathryn
Rusch, David Cherry, P. N. Elrod, Bill Fawcett,
Jody Lynn Nye, and Robert Asprin. Activities
include a short-story contest, a masquerade, an
art show, writers’ and artists’ workshops, seminars, and exhibits. Registration: $25 preregistered, or $30 at the door. Write to: GALAXY
FAIR, P.O. Box 150471, Arlington TX 76015-6471;
or call: (817) 467-0681.
ATLANTICON ‘92, July 3-5
This gaming convention, presented by ADF,
Inc., will be held on the University of Maryland
campus in College Park, Md. Events include
role-playing, board, and miniatures games.
Registration: $16/weekend preregistered; $22/
weekend or $10/day at the door. Write to: ADF
Inc., P.O. Box 91, Beltsville MD 20704-0091; or
call: (301) 345-1858.
KINGCON ‘92, July 3-5
Hosted by the Royal Gaming Society of Dayton, this convention will be held at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. Events include
RPGA™ tournaments, with AD&D®, GURPS*,
games. Other activities include DIPLOMACY*,
BATTLETECH* games, plus historical, fantasy,
and SF miniatures games. Registration: $10
preregistered, $15 at the door. Write to: P.O. Box
31174, Dayton OH 45431; or call: (513) 223-8973.
NANCON XIV, July 3-5
This convention will be held at the Ramada
Hotel Northwest in Houston, Tex. Events include
BLOOD BOWL*, and AXIS & ALLIES* games,
with historical miniatures games, a dealers’
room, fan-club rooms, seminars, Japanimation,
and open gaming. Registration: $15/weekend,
single-day rates are available. Send an SASE to:
Nan’s Games & Comics, Too!, 2011 Southwest
Freeway (U.S. 59), Houston TX 77098-4805; or
call: (713) 520-8700 from noon to 9 P.M. CST.
honor is Christopher Stasheff. Events include
FLEET BATTLES* tournaments, with a movie
room, a dealers’ room, a miniatures-painting
contest, an art show, and open gaming. Registration: $15 before June 30; $20 thereafter. There will
be a $1/game fee. Write to: Miniatures Wargamers’
Guild, 7040 S. Hwy 85-87, Fountain CO 80817; or
call Perry at: (719) 391-8318.
DOVERCON VIII, July 11- 12
This convention will be held at the University
of New Hampshire’s Memorial Union Building in
Durham, N.H. The special guest is Steve Jackson. Activities include RPGA™ Network tournaments, RPGs, war games, seminars, miniatures
and art competitions, and a dealers’ room.
Registration: $15/weekend preregistered, $20/
weekend at the door; $12 Saturday only, $8
Sunday only. Write to: DOVERCON VIII, P.O. Box
753, Dover NH 03820.
DRAGON CON ‘92, July 17-19
This convention will be held at the Atlanta
Hilton and Towers in Atlanta, Georgia. Guests
include Raymond E. Feist, George R. R. Martin,
Forrest J. Ackerman, L. Sprague de Camp,
Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Phil Foglio,
Ralph Bakshi, Denis Beauvais, Robert Anton
Wilson, Dr. Timothy Leary, John Byrne, Chris
Claremont, Lynn Abbey, Richard Garriott, and
Erick Wujcik. Activities include every sort of
gaming, with panels, seminars, a writers’ workshop, an art show and print shop, anime, videos, dances, robot battles, demos, costumes, a
hospitality suite, and consignment game auctions. Registration: $30/weekend before June 15;
$35/weekend at the door (RPGA™ Network
discounts available). Send a long SASE to: DRAGON CON ‘92, P.O. Box 47696, Atlanta GA 303620696; or call our 24-hour information line at:
(404) 925-2813.
CUBICON ‘92, July 24-26
This convention, hosted by SF³ and HFCC, will be
held at the University of Michigan-Dearborn
campus’ Recreation and Organizations Center.
Events include D&D®, AD&D®, BATTLETECH*,
WARS*, and CHAMPIONS* games. Registration: $4/
day or $7/weekend at the door. For preregistration
and GMing information, write to: CUBICON, c/o
SF³, 4901 Evergreen, ROC Building, Rm. 210,
Dearborn MI 48128; or talk (313)593-5390.
DALLASCON ‘92, July 24-26
This gaming convention will be held at the
Worthington Hotel in Ft. Worth, Tex. Events
and AXIS & ALLIES* tournaments. Other activities include an auction, a painting contest,
movies, and a dealers’ room. For more information and costs, write to: DALLASCON ‘92, P.O.
Box 867623, Plano TX 75086.
IMPACT 2, July 24-26
This SF&F/gaming convention will be held at
the Holiday Inn Old Mill in Omaha, Nebr. Guests
include Barbara Hambly, Tom Prusa, Rick
Harris, and J. R. Daniels. Other activities include
24-hour gaming, video rooms, a hospitality
room, an art show and auction, panels, a dealers’ room, and a masquerade. Also: “Alien Prom
2,” a fund raiser for Project Literacy U.S. (costs
$1 or used fantasy/SF book in good condition).
Registration: $13/weekend for a game/
hospitality pass, or $25/weekend for a full pass;
single-day passes are available. Write to: IMPACT, P.O. Box 4486, Omaha NE 68104.
This convention will be held at the Campus
Village West Shopping Center in Phoenix, Ariz.
GMs: Come and run your board, miniatures, or
role-playing game. Prizes will be awarded to the
best GMs. Other activities include a miniaturespainting contest and door prizes. Registration:
Free. Call the Roaming Panther Game Company
at: (602) 820-2083 or (602) 547-0239.
VEGASCON ‘92, July 25-26
This gaming/comics convention will be held at
the Palace Station hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. Events
include AD&D®, STAR WARS*, and DC HEROES*
games. Guests include Greg Gorden, Mike Grell,
and Mike Nystull. Convention proceeds will benefit
the Special Olympics. Registration: $18. Write to:
VEGASCON, 4210 Chatham Cr. #1, Las Vegas NV
89119; or call (702) 733-7470.
July 17-19
This convention will be held at the downtown
Radisson hotel in Memphis, Tenn. Guests include
Walter Jon Williams, Steven Brust, and Bart
Sears. Activities include an art room, a dealers’
room, an art auction, a costume contest, and
gaming. For more information and costs, write
to: MEMPHIS FANTASY CON, 4730 Poplar #2,
Memphis TN 38117; or call direct, days: (901)
683-7171; nights: (901) 385-0088.
CANGAMES ‘92, July 31-August 3
This convention will be held at the Skyline
hotel in downtown Ottawa, Ontario. Events
include a wide variety of role-playing, miniatures, and board games. Other activities include
an auction, dealers, movies, and 24-hour gaming. Family discounts are available. For more
information and costs, write to: CANGAMES,
P.O. Box 3358, Station D, Ottawa, Ontario,
ALOHACON ‘92, July 4
This convention will be held at Webster Hall on
the campus of the University of Hawaii. Events
include role-playing and war games. For more
information and costs, send an SASE to: Jim Haynes, 720 Morton Dr. #117, Honolulu HI 96819.
QUINCON VII, July 17-19
This gaming convention will be held at the
Days Inn in Quincy, Ill. Events include fantasy
and historical miniatures games, RPGs, board
games, and RPGA™ tournaments. Guests include
Jean Rabe and Lester Smith. Registration: $5/
day or $12/weekend. Special room rates are
available. Send an SASE to: QUINCON VII, c/o
Quincy Hobby Center, 3632 Maine St., Quincy IL
III-KHAN, July 10-12
This convention will be held at the Holiday Inn
North in Colorado Springs, Colo. The guest of
CONGENIAL IV, July 24-26
This convention will be held at the Quality Inn
South in Madison, Wis. Guests include Michael
38 JUNE 1992
Kube-McDowell and Jeanne Mealy. Activities
include hucksters, an art show, videos, filking, a
fan lounge, child care, and a con suite. Registration: $20 before July 4; $25 at the door. Write
to: CONGENIAL IV, P.O. Box 44146, Madison WI
TACHY4CON, August 1-2
This convention will be held at the Deland
Hilton in Deland, Fla. Guests include Wendy and
Richard Pini. Activities include Starfleet’s 3rd
Annual Region 2 Competitions. Registration:
$14/weekend. Write to: TACHY4CON, 426 S.
Lakemont Ave., Winter Park FL 32792; or call:
(407) 628-5047.
KUBLA KHAN III, August 7-9
This gaming/comics convention, presented by
Comics Utah and Terrain Specialties, will be
held at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City,
Continued on page 76
this Alphatian monopoly upset the campaign balance? What’s stopping Alphatia
from using its deadly, modern fleet against
other realms?
Airships are extraordinarily expensive to
produce, and wizards are extraordinarily
uninterested in wars. Alphatia indeed
possesses many of these wonders, but
they required centuries of magic-use to
build. Wizard-princes such as Haldemar
own these vessels, and they would rather
save them to keep rival wizards at bay
than risk them alongside the imperial fleet
in a foreign war that may not return much
other than mundane gold. Sure, Alphatia
could easily overrun many nations, but is
that wise? If a powerful state with the
latest war technology decided to go on a
rampage just for the sake of using its
weapons, what would happen to the global
economy? Perhaps Alphatian wizards
figured that their empire is big and rich
enough as it is. On the other hand, any
kingdom would think twice before raiding
Alphatian coasts.
by Bruce A. Heard
This series chronicles the adventures of
an Alphatian explorer and his crew.
but you know all that. This month, however, Bruce Heard takes a vacation, the
Princess Ark rests in port, and you get to
read your own mail on the D&D® game!
product featuring creatures like chameleon men, gator men, hutaakan, lupins,
pachydermions, rakasta, snappers, tortles
(all from AC9 Creature Catalogue), and
good old lizard men?
We could handle these guys (especially
lupins, rakastas, tortles, and snappers) in
product or an occasional chapter in future
Gazetteers covering this region of the
Savage Coast. Any preferences?
I've noticed that your article series includes a developed cast of characters of
different creatures and races. These wellrounded personalities serve as the crew of
an almost fully automated flying ship that
can shoot magical energy weapons. The
ship’s mission is to explore and seek out
new civilizations, while occasionally getting into air-to-air battles with the evil
Klingo—er, Heldanners. You’ve even
thrown in little details like chief engineers,
away teams, and cloaking devices. Is it
reasonable to assume that the inspiration
for this series come from a certain famous
TV show?
Although that was not the original intent, the magic-heavy background in Mystara certainly contributed to that set-up.
Live long and prosper!
Why don’t Glantri, Karameikos, Alfheim,
or other countries have airships? Doesn’t
Table 1
Nithian Armor
Armlet, pair
Anklet, pair
Bracelet, pair
Textile armor
Leather harness
Breast plate
Breast plate
Leather helm
Battle helm
Nithian shield
Nithian scale armor
Nithian plate mall
Partial Armor (as per Skill)
Partial Armor (as per Skill)
Partial Armor (as per Skill)
Partial Armor
Partial Armor
Partial Armor, without harness
Partial Armor, with harness
Partial Armor
Partial Armor
See below
Can use with helm and shield
Can use with helm and shield
Table 2
Nithian Weapons Equivalents
Short khopesh
Normal Khopesh,
used one-handed
Normal Khopesh,
used two-handed
Heavy eye axe
Short spear
15 gp
25 gp
80 cn
100 cn
Combat equivalent
Bastard sword, one-handed
Bastard sword, two-handed
25 gp
100 cn
Great two-handed sword
30 cn
40 cn
60 cn
20 cn
15 gp
2 gp
100 cn
Throwing stick
10 cn
Hand axe
Mace or hand axe
Short bow or staff
Use normal spear statistics but with a
throwing dagger’s base damage
Use pole axe statistics but with a normal
sword’s base damage
Special (see below)
Table 3
Nithian Weapon Mastery
Gd Master
P: 2d4+ 1
S: d8
P: 2d6 + 1
S: d10
H: + 2AC/2
Stun (s)
Stun (s)
Stun (s)
H: + 4AC/4
Stun (s)
[P = M]: Primary target is either a monster using natural attacks (claws, bites for example) or an opponents caught with a missile weapon in his hands
P: Primary target
S: Secondary target (opponents with hand-held weapons like swords and daggers)
H: Armor-class bonus to the throwing sticks user against attacks from or opponents
using hand-held or thrown weapons
AC/#: Number of times the AC bonus can be used each round
Note: Don’t forget to apply the Hit Roll bonuses from the table on page 76 of the Rules
Cyclopedia. Stun effects are explained on page 81 of the same book. The throwing
stick cannot be used in melee; it is a missile weapon. Druids, wizards, and clerics
may also use the throwing stick.
42 JUNE 1992
You described an ironwood spell in an
earlier episode of this column, but you
don’t specify what armor class the spell is
capable of producing.
Right. The spell transforms wood to
metal. This means you have to carve a suit
of armor out of wood, then have it transformed. Of course, chain mail would be
impossible to carve out of wood, but plate
armor might work. You get the armor
class corresponding to the type of armor
I am happy to hear that Gazetteers on
Wendar, Sind, and the Heldann Freeholds
are in the works. Your stories about the
Heldannic Knights makes the Freeholds
more interesting. Is there a possibility for
a separate Gazetteer on Norwold? Even
though it is included in Dawn of the Emperors, many modules take place there
and Norwold deserves better treatment.
Norwold has always been an “800-lb.
gorilla.” Many people would like to see it
covered, but it is so big that it hardly fits
the Gazetteer format. Norwold is obviously interesting, and it has lots of wilderness
for characters in search of dominions to
establish, but we’ll have to use a 24-milesor-more hex scale in order to fit that territory on a map.
Are there rules for determining hull
points for ships? I would like to create
airships of my own and need an accurate
estimate of such a ship’s strength.
Unfortunately there are no such rules. I
guess you need to compare ship sizes and
prices with the ones described in the Rules
Cyclopedia. Also check GAZ9 The Minrothad
Guilds, if you have it (Book 1, page 25).
Are there any plans to bring firearms
into the D&D game?
No. It’s up to you to decide whether to
have them or not.
Exactly what is Haldemar prince of?
Haldemar is related to the King of Floating Ar. Because of this, he is allowed to
bear the title of prince. His estate consists
of the lower of Haaken on a floating rock
and, down on the surface, a vast farming
community, a few villages, and the family
mansion. These are private lands, not an
actual principality like Glantri.
While studying the continental-drift
theory in my science class, I came upon an
exact copy of the D&D world’s planetary
map. It was a map of the Earth 135 million
years ago. I would like to know whether
whoever created the D&,D planetary map
used the Earth map as a guide?
He did. The original designer of the
D&D Masters’ Set started with a map of
our Earth millions of years ago. The likeness stops there, however. Over the years,
the development of Mystara took that
world further away from the original idea
(a hollow planet, two moons, magic, etc.).
After reading the otherwise excellent
HWR2 Kingdom of Nithia, I noticed two
irritating omissions. The promised armor
and shield statistics do not appear on the
cover, as stated. Secondly, contrary to the
statement on page 39 of the DM’s Tome, no
details about statues are provided in the
“Mystical Structures” section. As I mentioned above, other than these two snafus,
the supplement is an interesting read and
certainly valuable for the money.
You’re right. This complaint has become
quite common these last few months. Here
a solution I hope will be satisfactory:
Kingdom of Nithia mentioned several
types of armor, including the great Nithian
shield, partial armor, and full armor
Among these were the armlet, anklet,
bracelet, breast plate, leather harness,
leather helm, battle helm, textile armor,
scale/textile armor, and plate mail.
The use of the armlets, anklets, and
bracelets is explained in the section on
page 26 of the Player’s Tome that deals
with Bracers’ Skills. They can be used in
conjunction with a leather harness or
breast plate. They do not affect armor
class for armor or combinations of partial
armor providing AC 6 or better The use o f
a shield precludes the use of the Bracers’
Skill, and the skills total bonus on armor
class should be limited to +4 in any case.
See the Nithian Armor table for details.
Nithian shields, because of their light
build, can easily be destroyed, which
happens in any combat round during
which the character sustains five points of
damage from a single attack, or 10 points
or more from a combination of attacks.
Thieves can use any of the partial armor
except the battle helm and the breast
plate. Textile armor comes with a textile
helm. In game terms, the latter provides
protection against the sun only (no armorclass bonus).
As far as the statement on page 39 is
concerned, regarding the statues, check
page 42, on the power that pyramids have
over statues. That was the intended use of
statues in Kingdom of Nithia. The mention
of the “three” mystical structures is misleading in that respect—sorry
have been removed from the final text;
please ignore that mention.
The author did not originally design
Nithian weapons to be used with the full
Weapon Mastery rules. The weapon chart
inside the product’s cover should be treated as a simpler alternative to the Weapon
Mastery rules. If you intend to use the
Weapon Mastery rules, ignore the chart
given in Kingdom of Nithia.
Several weapons listed inside the
product’s cover can be taken straight from
the Weapon Mastery chart with little or no
modification (e.g., battle axes, pole axes,
clubs, maces, normal and short swords,
halberds, pikes, staves, and all missile
weapons other than the heavy eye axe, the
throwing stick, the short spear, and the
staff-bow). For the former, use the price
and encumbrance of their Weapon Mastery chart equivalent. For the latter and
other yet unmentioned weapons, I would
recommend the equivalents in Table 2.
The mace-axe is a weapon mounted with
both mace and axe heads. Your character
must expend two skill slots for each level
of weapon mastery with this special weapon. Both the mace and hand axe skills have
to be acquired at the same time because
this is a single weapon. Then freely use
one set of weapon statistics or the other
for the desired effect. The same logic
applies to the staff-bow: it is a staff when
used in melee, or a short bow when used
for missile fire. For the perfectionists
among you, limit the staff-bow’s range to
that of a sling.
This leaves us with the throwing stick.
We’ll have to make up its own Weapon
Mastery chart, as per Table 3.
There were several glitches in the
Nithian Weapons section, especially along
the lines of textual descriptions not matching the game data in the cover charts. The
above should solve most of these problems. And finally, there are the Ethengarian lasso and lance: for the sake of
simplicity, use the net skills for the lasso,
and the spear for the lance.
Will there be any kind of Monstrous
Compendium for the D&D game?
Yes. We are considering a complete
revamping of the old AC9 Creature Catalogue. The new version will be bigger and
better reflect approaches begun in the
Rules Cyclopedia. Some of the more questionable monsters may get dropped and
others added from previous D&D
products, while expanding and clarifying
the monster descriptions.
On page 19 in the Heavyman section of
HWR2 Kingdom of Nithia, there is mention
of Shield Back and Nithian Armor skills
that aren’t described in the skills section.
Is there a weapon mastery chart for
Nithian weapons? GAZ12 has two other
weapons, the lasso and the Ethengar
The Shield Back skill is pretty straightforward. If your character acquires this
Dexterity skill, your character benefits
from a +1 armor-class bonus against
missile weapons shot from behind. This
means the character wears his shield
(medium size or larger) on his back. The
shield has no effect against hand-held
weapon attacks (like a, thief’s backstab, for
example). The Nithian Armor skill should
You can’t live with ‘em,
but you can’t game
without ‘em
by Michael J. D'Alfonsi
Dice are the heart and soul of roleplaying games. They are also the cause of
more arguments and hurt feelings than an
army of rules lawyers. What is it about
these lumps of plastic that arouses such
passions? Could it be the strange habits of
their owners, or is it some curse placed
upon them by a long-dead archmage?
Whatever the reason, dice play such an
integral part in most role-playing games
that we often find ourselves confronted by
and dealing with all sorts of exotic and
bizarre behaviors. What follows is something of an anecdotal history of my experiences with dice owners and their quirks. I
will say now that I am no less guilty than
most, maybe even crazier than some. I will
also offer some hints as to how you can
minimize the dice-related anxiety of your
gaming group.
1. Superstitions. We’re all superstitious
to a degree, but dice seem to inspire nearly medieval beliefs among their users. One
of the strangest guys I ever gamed with
had his brother, a lay minister, bless his
dice before every gaming session. Another
longtime comrade of mine used to change
dice every hour on the hour. He had eight
complete sets of dice, though only he
could tell which dice belonged to which
set (the dice in each set were not sorted by
color). My first Dungeon Master had a tray
in which he rolled his dice. Any die that
jumped out of this tray was immediately
disposed of because it was under a “chaotic influence.” I never did ask him how
much he spent on dice, but I’m sure he’d
be rich today if he never followed this
You can see from the above examples
that superstitions can be bothersome,
weird, or downright irritating. My advice
to gamers is that if you must hold to your
superstitions, keep them to yourself. Making a big production out of your beliefs
will only get you into trouble with your
2. Specific dice. Have you ever had
someone insist that a certain twenty-sided
die always rolled high, while another
always rolled low? He has a different die
for everything, and his insistence on thisor-that die’s properties drives everyone
crazy. My first DM (the guy who liked to
throw out dice) was an orc fanatic. He
spent hours drawing them or creating
new ways of making them more lethal.
Last I heard, he was even trying to create
an orcish language. Anyway, he had a set
of red dice with black numbers just for his
beloved orcs. Goblins, giants, and other
NPCs all used the dice pool, but the orcs
killed, maimed, and saved using their own
special dice.
Another specific-dice quirk is the ongoing opaque-vs.-crystal argument. Proponents of gem dice say they are beautiful,
while opaque-dice users prefer the easy-toread solid dice. I have to agree with the
solid-dice side of the argument. They are
easier to read and do seem to hold up
3. Strange habits. One player in my group
has seen too many Las Vegas movies. He
blows on his dice before throwing them, and
if there is a female nearby he asks her to
“kiss the cubes.” More often than not he will
also shout, “Baby needs a new pair of shoes!”
as he is rolling. You can see how this stuff
can blow an evening.
A girl who was in my high-school gaming group was also a tarot enthusiast.
After reading in a book that many tarot
readers put their cards under their pillows
at night, she started putting her dice bag
under her pillow at night. I don’t know
about you, but I think that would give you
one heck of a headache in the morning.
She claimed that sleeping with her dice got
them “in tune with her personal biorhythmic vibrations.” Is it any wonder that she
also sported a mood ring and wore sandals
These folks are strange, but the crown
goes to my best friend from junior high
school. This guy had 12 dice, two of each
46 JUNE 1992
sort, all of them purple. This isn’t that
weird, except for the fact that he gave
each and every one of those dice its own
name. They were named for the first 12
emperors of the Roman empire: Caesar,
Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula (a wicked
little 1d12 used for long-sword blows vs.
large monsters in AD&D® games),
Claudius, Nero, Vitellius, Galba, Otho,
Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. Not only
that, but he talked to them! He would try
to coax Claudius (a 1d20) not to stumble
but to roll high. He claimed that Augustus
(the other 1d20) could roll high numbers
“as quick as boiled asparagus” (the emperor’s favorite phrase). Believe it or not, this
guy is now the manager of a classicalmusic radio station.
The most irritating and unnecessary of
all such strange habits is undoubtedly
toying with dice. Some players like to grab
and drop their dice constantly during a
gaming session, creating a horrible sound
guaranteed to grate anyone’s nerves. Others put their dice between their hands,
then rub them together over and over.
4. Dice bags. No dice collection would be
complete without something to keep them
in. Though there are many fine dice bags
available on the market, the ingenious
devices people come up with in which to
store their dice never cease to amaze me.
The competition is fierce. Leather seems
to be the most popular choice, because it
is chic and looks nice. When I was in high
school, the felt bags from bottles of Crown
Royal whiskey were very popular, and
anyone who’s father drank the stuff became very popular. This gave way to velvet jewel pouches, carved boxes of
fragrant wood, and crystal jars. The two
best dice containers I’ve ever seen were a
dried deer’s stomach and a banks currency bag.
5. Too many dice. There’s one in every
group: the guy who has 200 dice. No mere
dice bag for this guy; he’s got to have a
whole backpack for his collection. When
he spreads out his stuff, it takes up half
the table. His dice get into everything, like
sand at the beach.
I contacted several of my fellow roleplayers in the area and asked them for the
record for most dice owned by a single
player. Of the 72 players we know between us, 10 have over 100 dice. The
record for my circle of players and DMs is
382: 100d6s, 30d4s, 89d8s, 89d10s, 22d12s,
and 52d20s. When asked why he needed
so many dice, he said: “For years I just
kept losing dice and buying new ones. One
day I found all the dice I’d lost, and here
they all are.”
6. Cheater, cheater! The plague of many
a craps game is the dice mechanic, or dice
cheater. This guy cheats only for money.
In role-playing, it’s for his character’s life
and death!
While few players go to the lengths of
using crooked dice, you should be aware
that they exist. You can go into any novelty
shop and get a pair of weighted dice. Some
of these dice are quite ingeniously disguised, while others can be spotted easily.
Anyone with an AD&D game character
that has straight-18 stats probably didn’t
get them by luck.
Most cheats are far more resourceful.
Take the guy who rolls percentiles but
never specifies which die is for tens. I
confess that I am a recovering offender in
this department. Once I decided to quit, I
bought an odd-colored 1d10 and told my
group that this die was always the tens
Another irritating player is the one who
just drops the dice, rather than actually
rolling them. Amazing how they always
seem to get the good rolls, huh? One girl I
knew had this down to a science. She
could roll anything she wanted at will.
Two years ago she tried this in Lake Tahoe.
She’ll never shoot craps at Caesar’s again.
7. A few last thoughts. Dice should not
cause problems; they should make the
game better. Sometimes, through our dice,
we unleash the full brunt of our personalities on our gaming group. Can you blame
people for getting upset?
The first thing to do is only keep a reasonable number of dice. Collect all you
want, but bring only what you need to the
game. Only one of each die (with 2d10s for
percentile rolls) are needed. If you don’t
like to reroll a die several times, I suggest
the following: 5d4 (for AD&D game magic
missiles), 10d6 (for fireballs and character
creation), 2d8 (sword damage), 2d10 (percentiles), 1d12 (whoever uses them much,
anyway?), and 1d20 (it’s all you really
need). You don’t need 30-sided or 100sided dice, or any of the other bizarre
Above all else, show some courtesy and
common sense. Make your rolls where
everyone can see them (DMs excluded, of
course, but DMs are on their honor). Roll
your dice gently; don’t drop them or
throw them across the room. Keep your
dice in good working order-that is, fairly
new with clearly visible numbers. If the
edges become worn, replace the die. If
somebody forgets his dice, lend him some.
He’d do the same thing for you.
Don’t forget the most important thing of
all: have lots of fun.
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©1991 TSR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Kings of the
Merchants who make life
Artwork by Scott Rosema
by Ed Greenwood
Powerful inhabitants of the AD&D®
FORGOTTEN REALMS® setting who make
a living from commerce are many. The
most adventurous (or greedy) of these
travel the wilderlands in caravans. Here
are a few of the most famous merchants
active from Amn to Mirabar, from
Aglarond to the Vilhon Reach, and all
points between. Brigands beware!
Llachior Blackthorn
Male human
11th-level fighter
ARMOR CLASS: 1 (chain mail +4)
MOVE: 12
THAC0: 10
ATTACK BONUSES: +1 (strength)
DAMAGE/ATTACK: By weapon type +3
SPECIAL ABILITIES: Immune to normal
missiles (see text)
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil (see possessions)
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic good
PROFICIENCIES: Weapon --Battle axe,
bastard sword, club, dagger, sling,
spear, war hammer; NonweaponAnimal Handling, Blind-Fighting, Boating, Riding (Land-Based), Swimming
I 18
S 18/36
w 15
c 14
CH 15
D 12
AGE: 38
HT: 6’
WT: 184 lbs.
HAIR: Brown EYES: Gray
POSSESSIONS: Chain mail +4, battle axe
+2, ring of spell turning, wand of
magic missiles, helm of underwater
action, 1-6 potions of healing
TREASURE: 1-20 cp, 1-20 sp, 2-20 ep, 10100 gp, 5-40 pp; 20% chance of 2-20
gems (DM' S choice of types and sizes);
in train, 1-100 silver “trade bars” (each
worth 25 gp)
Llachior Blackthorn is a merchant of the
city of Velen, in Tethyr. He wanders the
northern lands frequently, arranging the
affairs of Velen’s trading enterprises and
constantly seeking new markets and contacts. Velen must continually battle the
pirates of the isles and ceaselessly replenish its strength, both in men and money.
Llachior will try to persuade any unattached fighters or adventurers to join the town
watch of “beautiful” Velen, part of “the
JUNE 1992
interesting in the Realms
strong arm that smashes pirates.“
Llachior is well loved in Velen; its citizens will leap to his defense if he is imperiled. He is seldom in Velen, however,
preferring to travel elsewhere by land.
Unusual for a Velaen (i.e., an inhabitant of
Velen), he has little love for the sea.
Those of the Blackthorn family were
minor nobles of Tethyr, based in Velen.
Long before the overthrow of Tethyr’s
monarchy, disease and misfortune had
decimated the family’s ranks and coffers;
Llachior is the last of his line. Every babe
born to the Blackthorn family had a permanent protective spell cast upon him or
her at naming, an expensive custom indeed. Llachior’s permanent aid is protection from normal missiles, which has
saved him from many brigands’ arrows.
Over the years, Llachior has been almost
everywhere in Faerun north of Calimshan,
making a comfortable living by trading
what is in short supply here for large
quantities of what is rare and highly desired there. He travels everywhere regardless of danger to unload his goods. Such a
life has often led him into conflict with
brigands, and Llachior has developed a
hearty hatred for such parasites. He delights in acting like a terrified merchant
until brigands have shown themselves,
whereupon he and his comrade Ondul
(described hereafter) go on the attack,
seeking to slay or cripple as many foes as
Llachior is always looking for someone
to settle down with, but he has had little
success in finding a partner thus far, perhaps because of his high standards. He’s
looking for someone beautiful, intelligent,
good-natured, and, above all, honest. She
must enjoy and engage in swordplay and
traveling, and be willing to make her
residence in Velen. Personal wealth would
be helpful as well.
Llachior is himself a kind but stern
straight-shooter, always open in his dealings and on the lookout for new places
and faces, trade goods, and jokes to share
along the trail. He wears rich robes of
orange silk and a brown fur cloak over his
chain mail, all of which makes him look
grossly fat (he’s not). He always travels
with his friend, Ondul, and with five hunting dogs that he has trained until they can
work together with an ease and organization that seems almost telepathic. The dogs
wear light studded leather armor and
spiked collars. In combat, treat them as
war dogs (Monstrous Compendium,
“Dogs”) of 16 hp each. They always know
Llachior’s scent and voice, and never attack him.
Ondul Jarduth
Male human
8th-level cleric of Helm
MOVE: 12
THAC0: 16
ATTACK BONUSES: + 1 (strength)
DAMAGE/ATTACK: By weapon type +1
ALIGNMENT: Lawful neutral
SPELLS: 5,5,4,3
PROFICIENCIES: Weapon— Flail, mace, war
hammer; Nonweapon— Alertness, Direction Sense, Endurance, Tracking
W 18
S 17
I 16
CH 14
C 16
D 14
AGE: 32
HT: 6’4”
WT: 236 lbs.
HAIR: Blond EYES: Hazel
POSSESSIONS: Chain mail +1, war hammer +4 (if thrown, it returns automatically to the thrower’s hand; upon
command it can glow with an amber
faerie fire radiance), 1-8 scrolls of various curative spells, and 1-6 dispel magic
TREASURE: 1-6 cp, 1-10 sp, l-6 ep, 2-40
gp, 1-10 pp
Llachior Blackthorn’s constant companion, Ondul “Warhammer” Jarduth, is a
quiet, good-natured giant of a man who
guards Llachior because he sees Llachior’s
survival as a good thing for folk generally
(Llachior gets goods to places where they
are needed) and for Ondul’s hometown of
Velen in particular. Llachior is also Ondul’s
longtime friend, and their travels give
Ondul plenty of opportunities to guard the
weak or law-abiding against brigands and
Helm and the priesthood of “the Guardian“ both approve of Ondul‘s actions. Most
priests of Helm are forced to remain in
one place (to guard a stationary object,
location, or person). It is good to have a
traveling cleric of some power to carry
messages, supplies, and items of value
from priest to priest about the Realms.
Ondul loves to travel and delights in Llachior’s wit and many jokes along the way.
Ondul himself tends to be close-mouthed
and shy. He enjoys a good wrestle or a
feast, but he generally keeps quiet and out
of the way. He doesn’t know what he’ll do
if Llachior ever marries and settles down,
but he doesn’t openly hamper his friend’s
search for a mate. Perhaps, he imagines,
he could found a fortified abbey of Helm
near Velen, and make the countryside
50 JUNE 1992
strong and safe again.
Ondul was born in Velen but was orphaned in a sea battle. He was too sick to
serve on the crew of the merchant vessel
that limped into the harbor of Baldur’s
Gate after fighting off pirates (and burying
both of Ondul’s parents at sea). The ship’s
captain left him as a ward of the temple of
Helm, where Ondul flourished, growing
quickly in bulk and in his devotional studies, until upon attaining the rank of Adept
he was sent to Velen, to aid the small and
struggling shrine of Helm there.
The canon of the shrine, Orm Talath,
soon told the boy that he needed a servant
like he needed an attack of the boils—the
service of Helm was to be furthered “out
there” in the wide world. So Ondul asked
a tirelessly traveling merchant of Velen,
Llachior Blackthorn, if he would mind a
companion. Llachior said he’d try it rather
warily, but the two soon became firm
friends and comrades-in-arms.
Ondul has a great memory for landmarks, trails, and the look of the land
wherever he’s been. As a consequence, he
can readily find caches of goods or treasure that he and Llachoir buried somewhere in the wilderness years before, or a
house in Waterdeep he visited briefly 10
years ago.
Sharest Tanthalar
Female human
9th-level fighter
ARMOR CLASS: 5 (dexterity bonus and
leather armor)
MOVE: 12
THAC0: 12
NO. OF ATTACKS: 4/1 with daggers (specialization), 3/2 with other melee weapons
ATTACK BONUSES: +1 attack (strength),
+1 with thrown daggers (specialization)
DAMAGE/ATTACK: By weapon type +1
(strength); +2 with thrown daggers
SPECIAL ABILITIES: Psionic wild talent
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic good
PSIONIC ABILITY: Wild talent—telepathic
devotion: Conceal Thoughts; PSPs: 49
PROFICIENCIES: Weapon— Dagger (specialization), long sword, hand axe, hand
crossbow; Nonweapon—Alertness,
Blind-Fighting, Survival (Cold), Swimming
S 17
I 17
W 15
CH 18
D 17
C 16
AGE: 29
HT: 5'11"
WT: 168 lbs.
HAIR: Black EYES: Blue
POSSESSIONS: All weapons of proficiency
(including six silver-bladed throwing
daggers sheathed on forearms, up
sleeves, in boots, and at back of neck,
concealed by long hair), 1-4 potions
(random types), ring of spell storing
containing two dispel magic and two
cure critical wounds spells, long sword
+4 (Silverkiss: IN 14, EGO 7, CG,
speaks Common, can detect invisible
objects in a 10’ radius, detect secret
doors in a 6’ radius)
TREASURE: 1-10 cp, l-20 sp, 2-16 ep, 10100 gp, 1-20 pp; 70% chance of 1-100
gems (DM's choice of types and sizes)
Sharest is a breathtakingly beautiful and
very astute caravan master. Clad in black
armor and fully armed at all times when
she appears in public, Sharest is never
without at least 12 loyal zero-level men-atarms, her senior caravan-riders (their
names are Bedarn, Bron, Chase, Helmar,
Lhiorst, Libarr, Nim, Obbar, Resparr,
Rhaal, Shuld, and Vhelt).
Sharest seldom uses her beauty to do
more than sway difficult business deals.
She never leads on would-be suitors, but
always declines them with gracious regret;
in fact, she often finds the love-struck
behavior of men who see her somewhat
irritating. One of her best friends is the
mage Nain Keenwhistler of Waterdeep.
(This 13th-level NG wizard is detailed in
FR1 Waterdeep and the North.) Nain tends
to be shy and retiring at all times, and
treated Sharest as a friend and equal
when they met at a party at the mansion
of Mirt “the Moneylender.” Sharest values
his friendship; if ill befalls her and Nain
hears of it, he will come looking for the
beings responsible.
Sharest is merry, graceful, and huskyvoiced, and she wears her black hair long.
Her use of hand-held crossbows and her
current practice with whips (her next
weapon of proficiency will be the whip)
betray her occasional dealings with beings
of the Lands Below, the subterranean
realms beneath Faerun, but she is currently active in the Sword Coast North and the
Dragonreach. She leads caravans through
the most dangerous regions, such as the
Stonelands north of Cormyr, and the High
Moor near Dragonspear Castle, and she
has often found herself at swords’ points
with forces of the Zhentarim.
Sharest is currently on the lookout for
magical powers or items that will enable
her to stand and fight the more powerful
mages of the Zhentarim, such as a ring of
spell turning or a greenstone amulet. The
Zhentarim have sent several parties to
waylay and slay her; she plans to return
the favor.
Sharest is either a Harper or an ally of
the Harpers. Her true aims and goals
remain secret beyond her known opposition to slavery, the Zhentarim, and brigands in general. If she has a husband or
lover, she keeps him a secret, too (he
would likely be a Harper). If she can be
said to have a home, it would be the city
of Silverymoon, but she also enjoys visiting
Hillsfar, Suzail, Everlund, and Waterdeep,
and she maintains rooms or houses in
those cities.
Sharest is famous for her single-handed
defeat of a pair of mind flayers near
Yulash, apparently resisting their powers
of mental attacks. She followed this by
killing the drow who had accompanied
them. According to her, the band of dark
creatures was on its way to Zhentil Keep,
to trade with the Zhentarim—a common
practice, she fears. Sharest has otherwise
avoided public speaking and a high profile,
preferring to be left alone and to go her
own way. One of the most experienced of
current caravan masters operating in the
North, she has been trading almost ceaselessly for the last 12 years.
Emrock Uerngul
Male human
11th-level thief
ARMOR CLASS: 6 (dexterity bonus; except
for a helm and gauntlets, no armor is
MOVE: 12
THAC0: 15
DAMAGE/ATTACK: By weapon type + 1
SPECIAL ABILITIES: Telepathic link with
Vleem (see text); thief abilities: 95%
pick pockets, 87% open locks, 75%
find/remove traps, 95% move silently,
80% hide in shadows, 35% hear noise,
95% climb walls, 55% read languages
ALIGNMENT Chaotic neutral (good
PROFICIENCIES: Weapon—Short sword,
dagger, dart, garotte; Nonweapon—
Alertness, Animal Handling, BlindFighting, Riding (Airborne), Rope Use
W 16
I 15
S 16
CH 15
C l6
D 18
WT: 194 lbs.
HT: 5’8”
EYES: Hazel
HAIR: Steel-gray
POSSESSIONS: Vampiric ring of regeneration, ring of spell turning, dagger +2,
1-6 random potions plus potion of
extra-healing (see text)
TREASURE: Many riches carried (see text),
plus 2-20 cp, 5-50 sp, 2-20 ep, 10-100
gp, 1-100 pp; 90% chance of 1-12 gems
(DM’s choice of types and sizes)
Emrock is known as “the Mad Merchant”
in the Inner Sea lands of the Realms. (In
the South, he renders his name as “Imrock.“) Formerly a thief, then a caravan
guard and later caravan master, Emrock is
a more honest man these days. He makes a
good living as a messenger and delivery
service across the North, having a secret
lair somewhere in the Vast and another in
the North near Sundabar. Emrock deals
only in relatively small items of high value,
such as gems, unique or magical items,
documents, sigils, letters, and odd parcels.
He encourages clients to protect their
precious cargos with seals, magical glyphs,
or mechanical traps; he won’t try to open
them. Emrock prefers to travel in bad
weather or darkness, and he seems to
enjoy a good fight. Such tendencies, plus
his droll, prankish humor, have earned
him his “Mad Merchant” nickname.
Emrock is known for his steed and companion: a gigantic, intelligent mantari (see
the AD&D 1st Edition FIEND FOLIO®
tome, page 62, or the MC14 Monstrous
Compendium, FIEND FOLIO Appendix)
known as Vleem. Emrock and Vleem are
partners and friends rather than man and
servile beast. They usually communicate
JUNE 1992
telepathically (100’ range), though Vleem
understands Common speech. Emrock has
also learned to interpret the “veep” warning cry that Vleem emits, as well as his
“chuckering” angry sound and his droning
croon of pleasure or amusement.
Other giant mantari, or giant air-rays,
are known in the Realms, particularly in
the jungles of Chult, but they are very
rare. Vleem is of an even rarer variety, the
giant snow ray, a cold-blooded northern
variety. Summer in the human-inhabited
lands of the North is too warm for Vleem’s
liking, and the ray sleeps much of its time
in deep, cold caverns. In winter, the ray is
often the only creature that can travel
through blizzards and sleet-storms, or
across icy wastes of water and leagues of
deep snow. The high fees Emrock can
command for safe delivery of valuables at
such times keep him well-fed, indeed.
Vleem eats organic matter of all types,
living or dead. Often it munches on treetop
greenery or rock lichens of the high peaks,
or wallows in battlefield carrion. Vleem is
large (12’-long body, with a 10’ tail and 26’
wingspan) and is a mottled green, gray, and
dun in color. His game statistics are: INT
semi; AL N; AC 5; MV 1, Fl 18 (A); HD 12; hp
92; THAC0 9; #ATT 1; Dmg 2-8 (bite), 2-8
(wing or tail slap), or 2-12 (ram); SA rammed
victim must save vs. spells or be stunned for
1-2 rounds; SZ L; ML 13. Vleem has bony
brow ridges that protect his eyes, a small
fanged mouth on his underbelly, and a
stingless prehensile tail that can wield all
weapons (including those of giants) with a
+6 damage bonus due to his great strength.
Still, Vleem is largely unaggressive; his kind
rarely fights. Vleem glides, rippling or beating his body edges and tail when necessary
for steering and propulsion. Buoyant internal gas cavities are believed to aid such rays
in flight.
Emrock rides Vleem from a high-cantle
saddle, to which are strapped long leather
“streamers” of pouches. For large cargos,
Vleem has been known to tow a boat or
sled from just above ground or water
Emrock was born in Mirabar and spent
his youth exploring the North with his
parents, who were prospectors. Orphaned
in an orc raid, Emrock wandered south
and took to the saddle, adopting the profession of caravan guard as a means of
getting fed and paid to travel (finding new
victims). Prudence often forced him to
curtail his thieving, but Emrock kept his
eyes open and learned the ways and the
lay of many lands, from Calimshan to the
borders of Thay, north to barbarian lands
and endless ice from the steppes to the
Sword Coast.
In time, he found himself the leader of a
surviving remnant of a badly mauled
caravan, and decided to become a caravanmaster in earnest. His thefts became more
astute and his loot more valuable, and at
length Emrock was forced to flee from
some angry acquaintances who had more
magic than he’d reckoned, even after he’d
stolen much of it from them. They pursued him a long way, employing summoned monsters and hired mercenaries, until
Emrock climbed some remote peaks to
escape. There the pursuit ended, for his
pursuers were certain that the orcs would
soon slay him.
But there were no orcs in those mountains, because snow rays love orc flesh.
Emrock met and somehow befriended
Vleem. Perhaps the telepathy between
them is natural, or perhaps the giant rays
have magical powers of their own unsuspected by most. Whatever its origins, this
teamwork between man and ray has lasted a good 26 seasons now, and Emrock
has cached much gold indeed (and not a
few magical items, with which he will
pursue any who rob or injure him and
then escape).
Continued on page 60
Searching the cosmos for a great computer game?
Hang on to your PCs, folks—we’ve just
previewed the VGA remake of Quest for
Glory I (QFGI) from Sierra, and it’s now a
much better adventure! We again visited
Sierra in California’s “gold country” and
talked with the game developers about
their new product offerings. QFGI feels
like an entirely new game instead of one
that you’ve already played. Sierra has
modeled the main characters from clay,
which they then digitize into the game (see
the photos with this article). With shadowing and animation, these characters really
come alive. You haven’t lived until you’ve
entered combat with these beasties! Add
in scintillating color and a graphic-icon
user interface controlled by your I/O device, and you have an adventure worth
revisiting. Sierra is going to make the
upgrade affordable for owners of the EGA
game, and we advise you don’t pass up the
opportunity to obtain the upgraded version. If you’ve never played Quest for
Glory I, now is definitely the time to purchase your copy and prepare yourself for
some exciting adventuring!
It won’t come as any surprise then,
when we tell you about our look at Quest
for Glory III (QFGIII). The artwork is truly
awesome, and the adventure is unique,
with an African flavor to it. With techniques developed for the remake of QFGI,
Computer games’ ratings
Not recommended
QFGIII continues the adventure with more
characterization and excitement. The end
scene is one you won’t soon forget. Also,
The Sierra Network (TSN), the company’s
new information system, is going to offer
Red Baron from Dynamix as yet another
of its multiplayer games. This could propel
TSN into a leading information service.
We’ll have a full review of TSN in a future
issue of our column.
Speaking of Sierra, the company has
released two new bundled packages that
are bound to please those readers who are
just starting to enjoy computer gaming—
pleasing both in the software offered and
the price. The first new package is the
Adventure Starter Kit, which contains
Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter,
King’s Quest I: Quest for the Crown, and
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the
Lounge Lizards. The second package has
the Space Quest Trilogy, which contains
the aforementioned Space Quest I, plus its
two sequels, Space Quest II and III. The
price of each bundle is $69.95, a reasonable value for the smash-hit games that
propelled Sierra to the top of the entertainment software industry. All of these
are for PC/MS-DOS machines.
Inner Circle Software has announced
the new Digital Dreams Network, an online entertainment service said to provide
the most advanced multiplayer interactivefiction game for modem gamers. The
service will support as many as 128 players simultaneously in its game, Legends of
Future Past. You create your own characters in this fantasy, then can travel in
groups and socially interact. This is a
purely text-based game with a huge database of probabilities and formulas for
determining the result of your action. This
project was created by Jon Radoff, best
known for his Space Empire and the Paragon Software BBS.
SSI has a new help line. The phone number is (900) 737-4468. The cost is $0.95 for
the first minute and $0.75 for each additional minute. This number is for game
hints only, not for technical support. If
you are under 18 years of age, please
check with your parents before making a
call to this number!
The first request for assistance concerns
Interplay’s The Lord of the Rings, Volume
I. “I have reached the house of Tom Bombadil, and Goldberry has asked me to
bring her some lilies, which I can’t find. I
have the Gold Token, Rose’s Token, Ghost
Ruby, and the Signet Ring, but I don’t
know how to use them. The words of
power I have learned are !Bombadil and
!Angmar, but I don’t know how to use
them, either. Please help!” writes Jason
Mejia of Los Angeles, Calif.
In response to David Crowe’s plea in
issue #180 for help with BattleTech: The
Crescent Hawk’s Inception, Daniel Devine
of Springfield, Mass. has the following
words of advice. “In the map room, you
need to touch the planets in the shaded
area of your map. These are Pesht, Benjamin, Skye, Ryerson, Kathil, and Achenar.
Ignore the other planet near them, because it isn’t on the map. Invest all but 250
C-Bills in Bethynes stock and save the
game outside the arena. Then, fight with
the rented ‘Mech. If you win, invest the
money and repeat this step. Also, if you
help stop a robbery you are richly rewarded. The cache is hidden on a small island.”
Jake Haney of Lawrence, Kans., comes
to the aid of Kyel Erickson who needed
help in issue #179 with Beyond Zork. “The
bubble mirrors come in handy near the
end of the game, when you enter the
underground maze. Don’t light your lantern. Instead, blow a bubble. When it
turns into a mirror, turn it so that it reflects light in the direction you want to go.
For example, let’s say the light is entering
the room from an opening to the south56 JUNE 1992
From clay to computerization on Quest for Glory I (Sierra On-Line)
west, and you want to go southeast. Blow
the bubble and point it south. When the
light hits the mirror, the beam is reflected
into the southeast changer.
“Secondly, you don’t use the Fountain of
Youth on the butterfly, but on the chocolate truffle instead. To make the butterfly
turn into a caterpillar, take it to the Gray
Grotto, an area within the gray fields of
Frotzan. Put the butterfly into the monkey
grinder’s organ, close the lid, turn the
organ’s dial to the clock, and turn the
crank backwards. When you open the
organ, the butterfly is transformed into a
“Finally, it is essential that you get the
jewel. Without the cash you get from its
sale, you cannot finish the game. You need
to find something heavy enough to hold
the idols maw still while you climb it to
get the jewel. None of your possessions
are heavy enough, but the mother hungus
is. Instead of saving the baby hungus from
the quicksand, attack it. This infuriates the
mother so much that she chases you all
over the jungle. Simply go to the idol and
climb up its maw. The mother hungus,
standing at the bottom of the maw, provides the weight necessary to steady the
maw’s seesaw action, enabling you to get
the jewel. Don’t worry if you are unable to
hang on to the jewel. You can always get it
from the mother later.”
BUCK ROGERS® Matrix Cubed
Strategic Simulations, Inc.
PC/MS-DOS version
Even if you didn’t know which company
published this game before you played it,
you’d know the minute you started to play.
The same game engine used in SSI’s gold-
box series is at work in Matrix Cubed.
Whether you’re adventuring in an AD&D®
game world or worlds of the future, SSI
presents the same interface, graphics, and
mode of play. Thankfully, the same excitement permeates their adventure games!
Is “sameness” bad? Not in our opinion; it
ensures that gamers who already know
SSI games can readily and easily become
involved in their latest offering. This is
especially true for those who played the
precursor to this game, the BUCK ROGERS
Countdown to Doomsday adventure. For a
science-fiction role-playing game, this one
has more combat than we would have
thought possible. The combat rules from
the earlier game apply.
The game starts with Earth under the
control of NEO (New Earth Organization),
but the planet remains pretty beaten up.
RAM (Russo-American Mercantile) is still a
force to be reckoned with, even though it
was beaten in the previous adventure, and
it continues to have designs on Earth. It’s
up to you to follow Buck Rogers’ orders
and search for the scientists who can build
the Matrix Device. This machine transforms any substance into pure energy. As
the last hope for Earth, you must succeed.
You may create your own characters, or
you can import your characters from the
first game in this series. If you decide to
create your characters, keep in mind that
each character should possess high skill in
Maneuver in Zero-G and First Aid. Without the latter, you’ll never be able to patch
up characters wounded in combat. And, as
much of the combat occurs in zero gravity,
you’ve got to be able to move about.
Other requirements include having at
least one of your characters develop high
Battle Tactic, Pilot Rocket, and all Medic
and Repair skills (protect the medic at all
costs!). You need to fix not only your rock-
BUCK ROGERS® Matrix Cubed (SSI)
et ship but its electrical systems and your
weapons, should they break down.
We found the best weapons to pack
include any type of needle gun, as they
have six shots per round. As your characters become better with their weapon
skills, these guns become quite effective.
The rocket pistol and rocket rifle are also
highly effective, as they cause a lot of
damage. Keep a large supply of explosive,
chaff, and aerosol grenades. If the enemy
fires projectile weapons such as rockets or
rifles, chaff grenades protect your characters. Aerosols protect against lasers. For
high-strength characters, a mono sword or
some form of polearm can really inflict
damage on opponents, as these weapons
are as effective close up as a weapon that
can fire over larger distances. Close combat also prevents the enemy from throwing grenades at your characters.
Aboard your rocket ship, the pilot
should be the character with the highest
Pilot Rocket skill. Always keep your missiles and K-cannons fully loaded. Make
certain you have a character aboard with
a high Jury Rig skill; as your ship takes
damage in combat, he can try to fix the
problem area to maintain your fighting
Actual selections of character race are
not as important as in other role-playing
adventures. It makes sense, however, to
select Desert Runners for your Warrior
class (if you elect to have any), as they
have bonuses to Strength, Dexterity, and
Constitution. Just don’t expect them to be
You must decide which locations to visit
first, such as the Caloris Space Port, where
attending the coronation of the Sun King is
an absolute must. In fact, the interactive
part of the adventure starts here, as you
try to save His Majesty.
You should also stop General Mavroudis
at the Asteroid Base from building the
Doomsday Laser. Perhaps you could use
the weapon to destroy something else that
is very important to the enemy forces.
The Venusian Lowlands offer some
exciting moments, such as an interesting
two-level laboratory. Watch out for the
Lowlanders themselves, Prevention of
Unwanted Research and Genetic Engineering (PURGE) attack squads, Mercurians,
and Ursadders. We strongly urge that you
assist the Lowlanders, especially if they
are about to be eliminated by the forces
from PURGE.
You want to find Professor Chade when
you get to Losangelorg Overland. In the
city’s Sprawls, a hologram disrupter is
hidden. This might help you find the historical museum itself, even though Chade
and his daughter are long gone. You are
definitely going to need to possess the
gargoyle’s key to go through the secret
door that led to the captives’ room. The
historical museum, in the desert, is where
you will have the opportunity to rescue
someone near and dear to the professor.
But watch out for robots and RAM
troops—they seem to be everywhere.
Other specific areas on interest include
the KRUN radio station, an ambush by a
warren gang, the chance to perform a
rescue in the Ratwurst Den, the Tower Isle
residential building where the team’s
passcard can be altered, Copernicus’s
Luna Base where your assistance to a Lt.
Jenner will give you the wherewithal to
rescue another scientist, a weaponry lab
where you must halt the spread of a nasty
plant mutation as well as complete a rescue, the Fungus Asteroid where you must
decide how to approach the Stormriders
(cooperation seems best), and the adventure’s finale on Jupiter.
This is an extensive adventure with
several complex subplots that you must
resolve in order to succeed. What’s entertaining is the fact that you make selections
based on what you know, and these selections can play havoc with the final outcome. Record everything that seems
important-—t usually is. Make maps like
crazy. (One area we think that SSI must
start to consider is including automapping
in its future game releases. It just takes too
long to map each and every location. You
want to move along in the game, not stop
just before every significant encounter to
map the area.)
Matrix Cubed is another good adventure
from SSI. With characters that can attain
high levels, a broad variety of conflicts,
interesting puzzles to ponder, and more
combat than you can shake a Martian
needle gun at, this science-fiction roleplaying game proves that SSI continues to
produce games that sell well. If you want
an adventure that provides new ways to
game, new graphics, or new game engines,
this isn’t it; it relies heavily upon past SSI
offerings. However, it is highly playable
and enjoyable. Matrix Cubed uses VGA
graphics, with either AdLib, Sound Blaster,
or minimal Roland sound support. If you
enjoyed Countdown to Doomsday, you’ll
really like Matrix Cubed.
Planet’s Edge
New World Computing
PC/MS-DOS version
An ETS (extraterrestrial ship) orbits
earth on June 23, 2045. After no response
to communications issued by the U.N., the
ETS initiates an overwhelming roar of
white noise. Every band of the electromagnetic spectrum is jammed. Data links from
the Moonbase lose all communications
with Earth. Ten minutes later, the U.N.F.A.
Moonbase commander tells everyone that
Earth is gone. After study, it is determined
that Earth has been trapped in a spacetime warp.
An investigation team boards the ETS
and locates alien artifacts and information.
It is decided that a team must be sent out
into the galaxy to find the parts necessary
to rebuild the machine on the ETS responsible for the planet’s disappearance. Indications are that the drive for the ETS
came from Alpha Centauri, and that’s
where it is recommended you start your
So begins an enormous science-fiction
role-playing game. Planet’s Edge offers
battles in deep space and on various
worlds. You must communicate with aliens
never contacted before; some you should
help, others you destroy. A total of 36
different adventures are offered, not
counting the interaction necessary with
spacefaring races. By retrieving technology and elements from other planets, you
can build new weapons and ships at
Moonbase to help you conquer more technologically advanced problems as the
game progresses.
Seven sectors are in the galaxy, and each
possesses dozens of systems. Within each
system are planets, asteroids, and space
platforms that you can investigate. Find a
planet with usable resources so you can
retrieve them. Most worlds are uninhabitable and contain no needed elements, but
finding and cataloging these planets can be
time consuming.
You do not build your own characters in
this game. They are predetermined, although you can clone each character and
come away with a slight variation in the
values of its skill sets.
Your adventure starts in Moonbase; you
move around by clicking on locations such
as the shipyards, where you build your
ship from the parts supplied at the warehouse. As you put your ship together, you
are advised as to how much “space” is left
for various items you wish to place on the
vessel. Definitely take a turreted weapon.
The old saying of running away to live and
fight another day is quite appropriate
when you start the game. The crew quarters enable you to clone your character,
which is quite handy if the original set of
team members is destroyed by any number of alien encounters. Also in Moonbase
is the Research Lab, where scientists and
engineers attempt to recreate any device
you bring to them.
It is going to take you a long time to get
everything needed to save Earth. In the
meantime, you might as well have fun
doing what you can to advance your adventure. Your first stop must be Alpha
Centauri—try to avoid conflicts en route!
Once you are aboard your ship, clicking
on the characters produces a command
window. You want to start out by clicking
on the pilot and requesting “Engage AutoPilot.” When you do, a second menu appears listing the systems you may visit; it
starts out with just Sol and Alpha Centauri, but as the game progresses this
menu will pack hundreds of destinations.
Five planets are in the Alpha Centauri
system. A small informational outpost has
been established on a dead moon. The ETS
records indicate that this moon is a contact point for observers assisting with the
failed Centauri Drive experiment. After
you request a scan of the target planet,
your science officer informs you that life
may still be here. You can beam down—
and be confronted by your first enemies.
Make certain every character is using
armor and weapons.
Once you defeat the robot guardians,
you can enter the base. There you encounter an android who is quite surprised
that you are not among the aggressors
who attacked his base, hunting for tactical
data about the sectors. You learn that you
are inside the Omegan Forward Observational Station. Taped narrowcasts from all
the local sector news services are available. To access a narrowcast, simply step in
front of the monitor (your scanner takes
care of all your translation needs).
After completing your hunt through the
58 JUNE 1992
Planet’s Edge (New World Computing)
base, you’ll learn that you must visit the
Algieban sector, as a critical part of the
ETS's machine is located there. You will
also learn vital facts concerning other
systems; make certain you have a pencil
and paper ready when you wander
through this base.
During the adventure, you’ll find unique
and helpful equipment. One method of
acquiring better weaponry is to Look at
the weapons left by those you have slain.
Many weapons and armors can be located
and used. Some armors work best against
projectile weapons, others against laser
Planet’s Edge does have a few problems.
When you orbit any Prime planet, you
may find your command to leave orbit
simply does not work—you continue to
orbit the planet. We recommend you access the auto-pilot, select any system, and
then, when your ship leaves orbit, manually take over the controls and select your
destination. Also, if you note that the
Leader of your group cannot complete a
command, or the wrong command is
implemented, choose another character as
a temporary leader. Try the command
again—it should work correctly.
This is a fine science-fiction game, combining space and ground adventuring plus
the opportunity to solve interesting puzzles in your search for Earth. The graphics
are clean and the animation smooth, although certainly not breaking any new
ground in that regard. The sound effects
and music through our Roland sound
system are composed well, although some
of the music will remind you of a certain
fantasy role-playing game from the same
This game offers numerous hours of
enjoyment. The excellent manuals and the
star map are quite handy. Be certain you
Planet’s Edge (New World Computing)
read all of the included material to help
you through the early stages of the quest.
With a large number of unusual and exciting quests, as well as the opportunity to
better your characters as they progress
through the different systems, this game is
well worth its cost. We highly recommend
Planet’s Edge for all gamers intrigued with
science-fiction role-playing adventures. It
uses VGA/MCGA/EGA or Tandy graphics,
with Roland, AdLib, Sound Blaster, or
Tandy DAC sound.
Clue corner
Planet’s Edge (New World Computing,
1. Don’t bother searching the Vega system and its seven planets for materials.
Waypoint Nine deserves attention, but
only after you either have cargo to trade
for entry to the world or are powerful
enough to defeat the orbiting protection.
2. Archird is not worth the effort; it’s a
desert world with no life.
3. Caph system’s planets are devoid of
anything interesting.
4. Talitha has nothing of interest.
5. On Talitha II, at Avia Castle, perhaps it
is wise not to trust the queen’s advisor.
6. Burning the flags on Talitha II can
keep the guards busy. Perhaps this is a
good way to obtain a more powerful
7. To recover the banner on Talitha II, as
the queen requests, enter the northeast
door-inside the arena. You might even be
able to grab the banner without firing a
shot! Then, run for the exit. Armed sociopaths will follow you, but only for a while.
If you have to attack them, don’t hesitate
to do so.
8. The path through the flower garden
to obtain the levitator is as follows (start in
the southwest corner): 2N, 2E, 1S, 2E, 2N,
1W, 1N, 1W, 2N, 1W, 1N, 1W, 2N, 4E, 2S,
2E, 1N.
9. When you enter the far northern
hallway, make sure your lead character
can sustain a 30 hit-point bomb blast.
10. Your next adventure is to Subra II,
where you must give He Who Speaks the
item left by the princess in the first adventure.
11. Until you find an Imastyl, you can’t
communicate on Subra II. Look in the
second tree to the south.
12. Slay a blood beast and take alien
meat to the creature at the bridge. It’s the
You may think you’d have to travel to another planet to find a
game convention. Finding friends
who are also gamers can be a
problem, too. Put your scoutsuit
away and turn to the Convention
Calendar in this magazine. There
may be a game convention closer
to your home than you’d think —
and conventions are a great place
to find friends who share your interests. Whether you like boardgames, role-playing games,
miniature wargames, or just
browsing around, a game convention can be all you’ve hoped for.
Plan to attend one soon.
60 JUNE 1992
only way you’ll be able to cross.
13. He Who Speaks is the son of She
Whose Steps Are Wise. She is also known as
the Magin. You must obtain the Talking Stick
from him, but you don’t have to kill him.
14. Once you take out the bladderclaw,
look in a western corridor for the Talking
Stick. Take it to the Magin.
15. When you return the Walking Stick
to the Magin, make certain the one who
returns it to her also possesses an Imystal.
She gives you an invitation.
16. If you don’t have any cargo on Algieba 7, you must defeat the space platform and its associated spacecraft before
you can beam down for the “festivities.”
17. Search the animal cages in the
kitchen. Don’t trust the Geal A’nai.
18. After you’ve been transported
aboard the Attagi and have your Choassqa
cards, you need to win your gravity bar.
Try the cards in the slots in the northern
wall in this order: 3, 5, 2, 1, 4.
19. Engine Two requires a card sequence
of 1, 5, 4, 3, 2.
The Lessers
Pools of Darkness (SSI, PC/MS-DOS)
1. It is easier to win the final encounter
against the Vaasan troops if you enter the
combat area from either the left or right,
not the center.
2. Do not pay the toll in Zhentil Keep.
Bluff, and the drow let you pass.
3. Have your mage memorize Power
Word Blind to get past the gelt in Manshoon’s Tower.
4. Try to keep Shal alive, as she gives you
a vorpal sword that can survive passage
through Limbo.
5. Just move on when encountering
hostile soldiers upon first entering
6. Kill Arcam before going to the Sentinel Halls, or he will send out harassing
7. Do not use melee attacks on blue Bane
minions, or you will get zapped.
8. Sasha is disgustingly arrogant and a
total fluffhead, but save her from wedding
Cadorna because you will get lots of experience points.
9. After entering the Inner Palace of
Gothmenes, fight Elminster when he first
appears to you, as it is a rakshasa in disguise. Any other course gives Gothmenes
more clues to finding Elminster and less
time for you to find the Crystal of Bane.
Ching Sann
Republic of Singapore
That’s it for this month. Please continue
to help your fellow gamers! Send your
hints and tips to: The Clue Corner, c/o The
Lessers, 521 Czerny Street, Tracy CA
95376, U.S.A. Again, we would appreciate
it if you wouldn’t call or fax lengthy missives containing hints. Our column-writing
hours start at the end of our normal work
days, and having the telephone ring at
4:30 in the morning is not our idea of a
good time! Thanks for your consideration.
Keep those letters coming. 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.
BUCK ROGERS is a trademark used under license
from The Dille Family Trust.
King of the Caravans
Continued from page 53
Emrock is a shrewd trader, an excellent
gambler (a master at spotting all known
forms of cheating) and bluffer, and is
experienced in battle. Cool, dispassionate,
yet entertained by a good contest, be it
mental, physical, or political, Emrock
enjoys his career.
Gray-bearded and paunchy, with white
streaks now appearing in his wavy gray hair,
Emrock is calm and genial. He wears a belt
with a large round brass plate as a buckle:
set into the body-side surface of the brass is
a concealed lockpick and a flat metal vial
containing a potion of extra-healing. Emrock
has friends and contacts across the North,
and he has at least one lover: the widowed
Jhaele Silvermane, innkeeper of the Old
Skull Inn in Shadowdale.
62 JUNE 1992
Computer games work best with more than one plaver
by Dorothy Slama
The pizza was late, as usual. I answered
the door, ignoring the voices coming from
the den.
“Cure me, I’m poisoned!” cried an insistent voice.
“No! Turn the undead!” another voice
called. The pizza delivery man cast an
anxious glance into the rooms behind me.
“Do anything, just hurry up,” came a
calmer voice. “If I get hit again, I’m dead.”
The pizza man didn’t wait for his tip.
The excited voices in the next room
were those of people enjoying a computer
fantasy role-playing game—with a twist.
Computer-game enthusiasts are quick to
point out the advantages computergenerated RPGs hold over conventional
fantasy games. The computer versions
contribute consistency, graphics, sound,
the element of surprise and welldeveloped plots. Yet there are some areas
in which computer games are lacking. The
camaraderie and competition of regular
RPGs are diminished, and there is a hollow
feeling when live gamers are not present
to celebrate great triumphs or mourn
cruel deaths.
Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy the
best of both worlds. Start with a good
computer fantasy adventure. The “Role of
Computers” column in this magazine is an
excellent guide to worthwhile choices.
Then, before you turn on the computer,
gather an adventuring party. I don’t mean
a party of computerized characters; I
mean a party of live gamers. We’re not
talking about an audience to sit idly by
and watch your progress as you play. Each
gamer will role-play a game character’s
identity as in a regular game. Having several players adds a new dimension to the
computerized fantasy.
Playing computer games with friends
has many advantages over playing alone.
You retain all the benefits of the computergenerated fantasy and gain the benefits of
group interaction as well. The excitement
of the game is enhanced by the enthusiasm of the other gamers. Each player
hopes to prove his character the most
fierce in battle or the most skilled in magic, so the competition isn’t limited to what
the game can dish out. There’s a secondary competition between players. Friendly
rivalry as the characters in the party vie
for the best weapons and armor adds
interest to the mundane chore of dividing
the spoils of battle. Battles are more interesting, as players focus on their characters’ performances rather than just the
outcome. With a properly formed party,
the characters will perform better too.
When playing a computer fantasy alone,
gamers play favorites. Someone who prefers the action of battle will focus on a
particular warrior, and equip him with the
best weapons, armor, and magical charms
so his might far exceeds his companions’.
Perhaps it’s a particularly powerful sorceress who receives special attention, so her
charms and spells can be relied on to
rescue the party from the most devious
foe. When a group plays a game together,
the party is better balanced. Each player
focuses attention on one particular character, so the characters develop more quickly and evenly.
Each gamer scrutinizes choices of weapons and armor, searching for the best
combination for his character. Fighters
seek combat to increase experience points
quickly. Sorcerers and priests are quick to
suggest the spells with the greatest chance
of success for every situation. Placing the
burden of battle on any one character
quickly induces screams of protest from
neglected players. Every player works to
prove his character is indispensable. The
balanced development of characters greatly increases the entire party’s potential for
success in battle.
More important, playing with friends is
fun. The group of players provides moral
support when the game becomes difficult.
There is always someone to talk to about
the game’s progress. When the solution to
that difficult puzzle pops into your head at
midnight, you can call up someone who
cares! Winning battles, exploring new
territory, completing quests, and even bad
events are more exciting with a group of
empathetic partners.
As wonderful as it sounds, playing computer games with a group does have drawbacks. Here are a few guidelines to keep
the problems to a minimum.
cover the secret of winning the game, but
it won’t have the prowess in battle to
achieve those goals. The ideal party provides a balance of battle-hungry comrades
and scholarly chums.
Once you have gathered your group of
gamers, you’ll need to create your characters. Before you begin, read the game
manual and determine the ideal mix of
races, classes, alignments, and other options. It’s more fun to allow each player to
generate his own character than to assign
characters arbitrarily, but everyone
should choose from the list of ideal characters; you don’t want a party of four clerics. If you have novice gamers in your
party, you can help them choose suitable
characters. Players who choose magicusing characters should be ready to memorize spell numbers and ingredients, and
study the effects of each spell to gauge
which is appropriate in each situation.
Ideal fighters are willing to risk life and
limb while searching for difficult battles to
advance more quickly. Fighters must also
take an active interest in armor and weaponry, since their characters’ performance
depends heavily on their equipment.
Be flexible about allowing new characters to join a game. You may start with
fewer players than characters, then allow
a latecomer to take an unclaimed character. Sometimes players drop out before
completing long games, so you’ll need
replacements. Even better, you could drag
out that game you stashed behind the
bookcase when you got stuck trying to
solve it last year. Your new players may
have a new perspective to get you rolling
Choosing players
Leader: “Let’s go to town so my barbarian can train and move up a level.”
Player 2: “Good idea. We need to save
the experience points.”
Player 3: “Forget it. I’m at the keyboard,
and I want to keep going.”
Player 1: “My wizard attacks with the
Player 2: “Hey, you’re playing a mage!
Find a spell to cast.”
Player 1: “I hate reading spell books. Just
have my wizard attack!”
Any serious role-playing gamer knows
creating a good party is crucial to success.
The time you spend creating ground rules
for your party will assure a successful
game. Once you are fully prepared to start
your party, consider the particular friends
you will invite to join your group. The
rules for creating a human party are quite
similar to the rules for creating fantasy
While intelligence and experience are a
definite plus, they aren’t essential characteristics. Your party of human players can
gain experience and insight as the game
progresses. Do try to match the game
characters’ personalities to their players’
and achieve a balanced mix. A party filled
with reckless warriors may advance quickly in levels of experience, but it may never
complete the quests necessary to win the
game. Conversely, a party filled with studious and cautious mages may quickly dis64 JUNE 1992
Choosing leaders
The designated party leader should be
the player operating the keyboard. This
eliminates any potential for a renegade
keyboard operator ignoring the group’s
wishes in pursuit of his own goals. Agree
on a leader well before the computer is
turned on. Some groups are very successful with rotating the leadership position;
this way, everyone has a chance to exercise control. Don’t try switching leaders in
the middle of a gaming session. It sounds
easy enough to trade positions every hour,
but the keyboard driver will inevitably ask
for five more minutes—to finish this battle, reach that castle, or get out of a
dungeon. Plan on following your leader
for a full game session.
Some games don’t adapt well to turntaking. In games like Eye of the Beholder
(SSI’s licensed AD&D® game saga), reaction
time counts in battle. A player who can’t
type or reacts slowly won’t do well in
combat. If your group has patience, you
can hope the slow typists gain speed as
they become familiar with the game. More
likely, you’ll want to choose a fast typist as
permanent keyboard operator.
Controlling characters
Player 1: “Let me cast Finger of Death.”
Leader: “No, Dancing Sword is better.”
Player 2: “I’ll shoot the crossbow at the
stone golem.”
Leader: “No, you need to kill the guardsmen. I’ll get the golem on my turn.”
It’s pointless to assign characters to your
players if they don’t have the freedom to
dictate their characters’ actions. Players
will soon become frustrated and bored if
the keyboard operator/party leader ignores them, inputting his own ideas of
what the characters should do.
Each player is responsible for deciding
his character’s moves. The keyboard operator must follow the player’s instructions.
The exceptions to this rule are few. If a
player insists on an action that will harm
the party, he can be overruled. Performing
poorly in battle doesn’t count as harming
the party; refusing to heal fellow adventurers does.
Players do have the right to harm their
own characters by recklessness, as long as
other characters aren’t affected. For instance, a player can have his hero drink
from a well that temporarily adds hit
points, but ages his character. It doesn’t
matter if other players believe the action is
in poor judgment. However, if the player’s
hero dies continually and needs resurrection, he is interfering with the enjoyment
of other players, since resurrection is
usually expensive and might affect a
priest’s character’s statistics. Usually, it
isn’t necessary to arbitrarily overrule a
player. Explain the problem, apply a bit of
peer pressure, and he’ll see the error of
his ways.
More often, the problem is with the
keyboard operator/party leader. Experienced gamers know the best strategies. It’s
easy to become impatient with a novice
who continually tries strategies you know
won’t work. The leader must remember
he was once a novice, too. He wouldn’t
know the best strategies if he hadn’t made
a few mistakes himself. Allowing a player
to make a choice against your advice can
only prove that you were right! The novice will learn the strategies and learn to
listen to your sage advice.
A more subtle form of interference is
excessive advice. More experienced
gamers should definitely guide the novice
players in the party, but don’t let the new
players rely entirely on your advice. There
is no satisfaction in parroting someone
else’s suggestions for the whole game. Give
each player plenty of opportunity to make
his own decisions, even if the decision is
only which monster to fight. You learn
best from your own mistakes.
Knight: “I found the Protection Ring + 2,
so I’m keeping it.”
Cleric: “You have plate mail, and I’m
wearing leather armor. I need it. Give it to
me, or I won’t cure your deafness.”
Since characters must travel as a party,
friendly rivalry over weapons and treasure must be kept to a dim roar, so it
doesn’t diminish the spirit of team work.
Each character’s success is inextricably
linked to the survival of the party. A disgruntled cleric who chooses not to heal an
arrogant knight will soon die an ignoble
death in a zone where his magic is negated. Generic treasure, such as money,
torches, and gold, should be divided in
equal shares, regardless of each player’s
contribution to winning it. Dividing special
weapons and magical items can be trickier.
Often, weapons and items are designed
for a particular class of character. A magical Crossbow + 3 naturally belongs to the
archer, even if the knight is still fighting
with a club. Of course, the archer should
be willing to offer or trade his outmoded
Crossbow + 1 to another deserving character. Some items work equally well with
several characters.
There are a couple of possible rules to
choose from in dividing these items. The
“Finders Keepers” rule works best if the
computer automatically divides treasure,
but there are two major drawbacks to
“Finders Keepers.” First, some games automatically award treasure to the character
who is first in the marching order. Since
rotating marching order might place vulnerable characters in the heart of combat,
forget this rule unless the treasure is
randomly divided. The second problem
with “Finders Keepers” is that items aren’t
always used to their best advantage by the
people who own them. Can a wizard use a
magical broad sword?
A better alternative, if the group of
players is capable of reasonable discussion, is to distribute prizes on the basis of
need. A protective ring would belong to
the character with the worst armor class.
Magical items capable of duplicating combat spells should be used by characters
with the least fighting ability. This method
keeps the party balanced and increases
everyone’s chance of success. When all
else fails, the designated leader decides
who gets what. It’s best not to resort to a
leader’s decision too often, since arbitrary
assignment of treasure takes the fun out
of the game.
Player 1: “Hurry up! Let’s go through the
Leader: “Wait a minute. I have to map
this room.”
Player 2: “All right, it’s mapped, let’s go.”
Leader: “Hold on, I have to look up the
Levitation spell, in case there’s a pit.”
The other group members shouldn’t sit
idly watching the leader operate the keyboard. There are other jobs to be divided
among the players. Someone else should
be in charge of mapping new territory.
Again, this position requires some aptitude. Mapping can be difficult, especially
when the mapper isn’t at the keyboard.
Use care in choosing the navigator so the
maps will be accurate. Many experienced
gamers rely on memory rather than maps
when they play, but this is a bad idea for
group play. The idea is to keep everyone
involved in the game, and other players
can’t use a map you keep in your head.
Recording and interpreting clues are another player’s responsibilities.
Remember that the game can’t be won
without completing the quests. The scribe
should record clues accurately, noting the
location and source of the information.
Choose someone who writes legibly and
makes clear notes other players can understand in his absence. He should offer
his interpretations of the clues without
hoarding the information or insisting
everyone follow his suggestions. The final
duty on the job roster is holding and using
the game instructions and clues manuals.
Everyone should read the instructions
manual to familiarize himself with all rules
and objectives. During the game, one
player keeps the manual for reference.
The game manual often contains clues,
and it always lists spells. Choose a player
who will actually read the entire manual
so he’ll know where to look when you
need information. You can’t wait while he
searches for a spell in the heat of combat.
Of course, if you rotate keyboard operators, you’ll need more than one player to
be familiar with each position.
As you play, you’ll find that some players
are naturally more suited to some positions. To start, divide the positions according to character class. Knights, fighters,
paladins, and archers make good keyboard
operators and navigators. Sorcerers,
mages, and clerics are well suited to recording clues and will naturally want the
game’s spell book (you might have to make
copies of it for your group’s use only). The
general categories of game duties can be
combined or divided to suit the number of
players in your group. Try not to leave any
players without a duty, or they’re likely to
become chaotic with boredom.
What’s next?
Player 1: “There’s the wizard’s cave! Let’s
go in!”
Player 2; “No way. We’re on a quest to
find the Ring of Fire.”
Player 3: “The map shows a dragon’s lair.
Let’s go get some experience points.”
Once you’ve created characters and
distributed game duties, you’re ready to
play. Since you’ve discussed your ground
rules and designated a leader, progress
should be smooth in the beginning. As
your characters gain experience and your
explorations uncover more opportunities
for adventure, you may encounter a few
minor conflicts. While many adventures
must be completed in a specific order,
some games are quite flexible. Adventurers may have trouble agreeing about what
to do first—or second, or third.
The easiest solution is to let the leader
decide. If you’re rotating leaders, make it a
rule that you always finish one quest
before embarking on another. Otherwise,
you’ll make no progress as the focus
changes from session to session. If you use
a permanent leader, he must be flexible
enough to try the other players’ suggestions some of the time, or everyone will
lose interest. The reckless adventurer may
find himself at odds with his more cautious counterparts about game strategy.
Always remember the purpose of the
group effort is to better balance the party.
Each player’s ideas are worthy of consideration. If everyone sticks to the ground
rules, your game-playing should be trouble
Time to play
Player 1: “I can’t make it tonight. We’ll
have to play tomorrow.”
Player 2: “Everyone else is here. We’ll fill
you in tomorrow.”
Player 1: “You can’t play without me. I’ll
miss everything!”
Unfortunately, even the most harmonious of parties occasionally runs into trouble with schedules. Devoted adventurers
are often prone to spending grueling
hours at a stretch exploring a game.
Though the members of your party may
want to spend as many hours working on
a game as you do, the grim realities of
everyday life may prevent them. Players
may object mightily when you continue
the adventure in their absence. On the
other end of the scale, you may find some
members of your party are more enthusiastic than you. Once you have involved
them in your game, you may inherit permanent house guests for the duration of
the game.
Decide by mutual agreement on time
limits for gaming. Demanding that everyone be present whenever you play can
draw the game out interminably. A better
solution is to agree that experience points
and treasure will be divided equally with
the heroes of absent players.
Now that you have gathered a party and
established a few ground rules, you are
ready to begin. Your party of players will
add a new dimension to fantasy roleplaying games. Not only will you have an
enthusiastic audience when you relate
tales of battle, you’ll have a team of strategists. Each member will strive to make his
character the strongest or most powerful,
so your party of adventurers will live up
to its full potential. Have fun—and don’t
stay up too late.
Tell us more—and still win!
by the DRAGON® Magazine staff
Once again, we are asking you, the loyal readers of DRAGON® Magazine, to give us some insight about you and how you feel about this magazine. We will use this information to tailor this magazine to your gaming
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New crossbows for old in the AD&D® game
by Donald D. Miller
Artwork by L. A. Williams
In the AD&D® game, the crossbow is a
much maligned and underrated weapon. It
has only slightly better range than the
long bow, but with a notably lower damage potential and a much slower rate of
fire. It is normally chosen only by lowlevel or destitute characters who cannot
afford a bow, or by novice players who do
not yet understand what a poor weapon
this is within the game. This is hardly a
realistic representation of the medieval
Crossbows were used in China as early as
1200 B.C. and as hunting weapons in central
Europe by 400 B.C. The historian Vegetius
tells of Roman legions being armed with
crossbows in A.D. 385. It was considered
such a dangerous weapon that in 1139 Pope
Innocent II banned its use by all Christians.
This ban was later lifted for knights going on
the Crusades, allowing them to use crossbows against the Saracens.
At 7 lbs. for a light crossbow and 14 lbs.
for a heavy one, the crossbow is much
harder to carry than a simple bow, at 2-3
lbs. It cannot fire nearly as fast, with rates
of fire of 1/1 or 1/2 for light and heavy
crossbows, respectively, against 2/l for
any bow. The crossbow is also more susceptible to water damage than a bow;
immersion in water or exposure to rain
lasting longer than five rounds requires
that a bowstring be aired out in the sun
for a full day and checked for rot, but this
process takes 2-4 days for a whole crossbow. Because of its greater weight, a
crossbow is not nearly as useful against
moving objects and ought to suffer a -1
penalty on attack rolls against fast-moving
targets (DMs must decide exactly what
constitutes a fast-moving target; a man
walking down a road is not such a target,
while someone running for cover is). Note
there is no “fast-moving” penalty if the
target is moving directly toward or away
from the crossbowman.
However, crossbows can be produced
more cheaply than bows (an important
point for a lord fielding an army), they
require less training to use (DMs who
require characters to spend time training
68 JUNE 1992
with weapons might allow proficiency
with the crossbow in half the time required for the long bow), and they have
greater range and penetrating power (i.e.,
do more damage). The crossbow can be
cocked and loaded in advance, then kept
at the ready. Because of its sturdy construction, this weapon might not be seriously damaged if used to parry an attack
from an enemy’s weapon. Also, a crossbowman can use the stock of his weapon
as a club (-1 to hit for clumsiness, but a
hit doesn’t harm the weapon).
Hand crossbow
The crossbow consists of a small metal
or wooden bow mounted horizontally on a
wooden stock. A release nut is set in the
center of the stock, and the bowstring is
pulled back to catch on this nut. When the
leverlike trigger is pressed, the nut shifts,
releasing the string and firing the quarrel.
Some crossbows have a groove carved in
the center of the stock from the nut to the
bow, to better control the quarrels flight.
Crossbows fire ammunition called quarrels or bolts. These look like small arrows,
ranging from 1’ to 2’ long. Quarrels have
only two vanes (feathers) set on opposite
sides of the shaft, whereas arrows have
three vanes set equally around the shaft.
Arrows and throwing darts cannot be
fired from crossbows, nor can a crossbow
fire bolts of different sizes (light crossbows fire only light quarrels, heavy crossbows fire only heavy quarrels, etc.).
For those DMs who would like to increase the lore of crossbows and expand
the options available to those who use
them in the campaign world, I present the
following information and examples. More
Medium crossbow
material is given in DMGR3 Arms and
Equipment Guide, pages 63-67, and you
may also wish to include the doubled
crossbow and disk crossbow from “New
Weapons for Old,” in DRAGON® issue
Hand crossbow: From the 13th to
15th centuries, Italy produced crossbows
that were only 14" long with a bow 10”
across. These weapons were easily concealed under cloaks or in the folds of
robes; they were often used by assassins
and were therefore outlawed in many
areas. Each is cocked by holding the stock
or bow with one hand and pulling the
string back with the other. Due to its light
weight, the hand crossbow does not suffer
a -1 penalty for attacking moving targets.
The high price of this item (300 gp, as per
the Player’s Handbook, page 68) reflects its
being sold only on the black market in
most areas. If allowed to be sold openly, its
price would fall to only 30 gp.
Hand-crossbow quarrels can be used as
throwing darts in emergencies. They
suffer a -2 on attack rolls and have only
half the normal range of darts when
thrown by hand.
Light crossbow: This was the earliest
form of crossbow developed. It has a
wooden bow and a draw of about 50 lbs.
This weapon is cocked by bracing the bow
and pulling the string back until it catches
behind the release nut. This was the crossbow used by the Roman legions and the
Mpangwe of Africa. If your characters are
in a primitive area or if your campaign is
set in an early time period, this will be the
only crossbow available. The light crossbow can be held and fired using only one
hand (-1 on attack rolls). If one is used in
each hand, the attack penalty is cumulative with the penalties for attacking with
two weapons (Player’s Handbook, page 96).
Medium crossbow: The medium
crossbow was introduced in the 13th
century and had a composite bow of horn,
sinew, and wood. It had a draw weight of
100 to 150 lbs. and was cocked by placing
one foot in the stirrup at the crossbow’s
front and using both hands to pull back
the bowstring. This was a common hunting weapon of medieval Europe.
Heavy crossbow: The heavy crossbow
has a steel bow and first appeared in the
14th century. This weapons often had a
draw weight of 500 lbs. or more and was
cocked using a windlass (a miniature block
and tackle). The windlass was attached to
the weapon’s stock, a hook was put over
the bowstring, and the string was cranked
back. The windlass was then removed and
the crossbow was loaded with a quarrel.
All of this contributed to the weapon’s
Table 1
Revised Crossbow Statistics
Hand crossbow
Hand quarrel
Light crossbow
Light quarrel
Medium crossbow
Medium quarrel
Heavy crossbow
Heavy quarrel
Siege crossbow
Siege quarrel
300 gp
1 gp
35 gp
1 sp
40 gp
2 sp
50 gp
3 sp
100 gp
5 sp
* These items weigh one-tenth of a pound each.
Table 2
Revised Crossbow Ranges
Hand crossbow
Light crossbow
Medium crossbow
Heavy crossbow
Siege crossbow
of fire
slow rate of fire. The heavy crossbow was
used as a military weapon throughout
most of medieval Europe.
Siege crossbow: The siege crossbow
70 JUNE 1992
was a stronger version of the heavy crossbow with an improved steel bow and was
first seen in the 15th century. This weapon had a draw weight often reaching
Siege crossbow
1,200 lbs. and was cocked using a windlass
like the heavy crossbow. The siege crossbow was normally used by soldiers who
would rest the weapon on a castle wall
and fire at the attacking army. Any character not bracing a siege crossbow on a solid
object (castle wall, boulder, fence post,
etc.) will suffer a -1 attack penalty per
range level (-1 at short, -2 at medium,
and -3 at long) in addition to all normal
range penalties. The siege crossbow was a
very late development and should exist
only in Renaissance-period campaigns. The
improvements in metalworking that allowed its production also produced superior firearms, which soon rendered this
weapon obsolete.
Example: Lord Oswerd spots an orc
across an open field and breaks out his
siege crossbow. After spending two
rounds attaching the windlass, cranking
back the bowstring, detaching the
windlass, and loading the weapon, he is
ready to fire. Since the orc is 200 yards
away, he is at long range (-5 on his attack
roll). Being in an open field, Lord Oswerd
has nothing to rest his weapon on (-3).
Seeing what’s coming, the orc starts running for his life (-1). So, Lord Oswerd has
a -9 penalty on his attack roll. If he hits,
the orc will suffer 1d10 hp damage—likely
enough to kill him.
Among demihumans, dwarves and
gnomes are known to favor the crossbow.
Dwarves prefer medium crossbows. They
find the heavier ones too slow and the
lighter ones lack high damage potential.
Gnomes favor the light crossbow, finding
anything heavier too bulky. Elves and
halflings shun crossbows, finding them too
cumbersome; considering their bonuses
with other missile weapons, they are
probably better off that way.
[“Forum” letters pertaining to crossbows
may be found in DRAGON issues #167
(page 74), #175 (page 70), and #179 (pages
53-54). Crossbow- type weapons larger
than siege crossbows are ballistae, which
are well detailed in the SPELLJAMMER™
boxed set’s Concordance of Arcane Space,
page 41.]
Giving three dimensions to psionics
in the AD&D®
2nd Edition game
by Jan Berrien Berends
Psionics in the AD&D® 2nd Edition game
is an exciting element that adds color and
vitality to any campaign. The rules in The
Complete Psionics Handbook are fully
functional. However, the rules alone are
not sufficient to bring the full potential of
psionics to life in a campaign. The true
excitement of psionics is only realized
when the DM uses all his power to describe psionics in vivid detail.
Just as combat in AD&D games is much
more exciting if the DM describes what
happens, so too are psionics more satisfying if the DM creates a detailed picture for
the players. For example, when a player
character wishes to establish contact with
another creature, the DM can simply allow
the player to make the power check and,
if successful, tell the player that her PC
has made contact. This system works fine,
and in some situations it is the best to use.
However, it often falls flat.
Wanda: (playing Grekor the psionicist): I
want to make contact with the
biggest ogre.
DM: Okay, roll your power check.
Wanda: I made it. Now I want to use
DM: Roll your power check.
Wanda: I made it.
DM: The ogre is thinking that it wants
to smash you with its club.
Artwork by Bob Giadrosich
Not very exciting, is it? The same sequence, however, can become much more
intense with a little description on the
DM's part.
Wanda: I want to make contact with
the biggest ogre.
DM: Okay, you place your hands on
your temples and send out an arm
of your consciousness. To your
psionic senses, the ogre's mind appears rather small and open, almost
inviting you to enter. Make your
power check.
Wanda: I make it. Now I want to use
DM: You are surprised at how easily
your consciousness slips into the
ogre's mind. Make your power
check. [Wanda succeeds.] You get the
feeling that there is not much in the
ogre's mind beyond what you read.
"Brabo crush! Brabo crush Grekor
hard!" he thinks over and over to
himself, gripping his club as he
looks at you. His mind seems to be
just barely able to cope with the
thought, but he's eager for what he
thinks will be an easy victory.
7 3
Clearly, this is a little more interesting.
Of course, there are times when the simple method of declaring what power is
being used and checking for success is
preferable. In the heat of an exciting and
important battle, a simple description (like
the first one) is probably adequate. At
other times, however, an even more detailed description is best. In this article,
each discipline is examined for the best
ways to enliven and enhance its use in a
Clairsentient powers allow characters to
sense things they would otherwise be
unable to detect. They should always be
given detailed descriptions. When a PC
uses Clairvoyance or Clairaudience, describe the feeling she has as she sends her
senses outward from herself. Perhaps
there is a sound of rushing wind in her
ears as she starts to use Clairaudience.
And when her senses arrive at the desired
site, describe incidental sensations first, to
set the mood. For example:
Birds chirp cheerfully, and you hear
the sounds of a soft breeze. “I love you,”
a young man’s voice whispers. Giggles
are the response.
The same applies to Clairvoyance:
Your first impression is that everything is
dark. After a few seconds, your eyes
adjust and you see a wall of wet stones.
Your attention is drawn by a shadowy
movement. Someone is walking,
crouched and quietly, along the passage.
The same attention to detail should be
used with all clairsentient powers. Here,
Aura Sight is used on an 8th-level chaoticgood fighter by a 4th-level psionicist:
The warrior’s aura is a fiery red, flaming
glow. The intensity of the light reveals
that he is quite powerful, having about
twice your personal power. This particular shade of red is characteristic of a
fierce, noble individualism; he is generous and sincere, if not disciplined.
Because psychokinesis tends to have
primarily physical effects, description is
usually taken care of by describing the
action. However, it is always good to describe how the psionicist himself feels.
The stone is quite heavy. You feel an
almost physical strain in your mind as
you lift it, as if your muscles are tensing. It seems that you can move it only
ever so slowly, lifting it out of the way
of the narrow pass. At times, you feel
74 JUNE 1992
like you just might drop it, but at the
last second, you always manage to
catch it.
Also, it is important to remember to
appeal to all the senses when you describe
the effects of the power, such as with
Control Wind:
The wind whips up, wrapping your
clothing tightly around your body.
There is a great sound as the air
around you moves faster and faster,
chilling you and slightly upsetting your
Here, someone uses Levitation:
You feel a refreshing lightness as you
rise off the ground. The orderly garden
takes on an interesting perspective as
you look down upon the riot of color
within it. As the castle grounds fall
away below you, you feel the air cool a
bit. The scent of pollen from nearby
maple trees tickles your nose on a
breeze that rushes past.
The obvious sense to which this discipline appeals is touch, as the psionicist
feels the changes that happen to his body.
However, you can enhance the description
by lending detail to the processes that
must happen in the psionicist’s mind. With
Animal Affinity, for example, the psionicist
has to allow his psyche to get in touch
with the animal part of his nature.
You bend your mind inward, searching
for the eagle within you. Images of soaring and hunting flood your mind. You feel
your arms change into wings, your bones
stretching and becoming thinner, and the
change feels right. Wings are so much
more practical and real, you think. You
stretch out your wings, admiring the
reach of your wing tips and the perfection of your feathers.
In order to use psychometabolic powers,
the psionicist must cease to view his body
as a physical reality and see it as a psychic
entity. Thus, when a psionicist uses Graft
Weapon, the psionicist must feel himself
and the weapon as two malleable elements
of psychic reality:
You heft the rapier in your hand. It
feels sharp, true, and sturdy, perfectly
balanced. It ceases to be merely a piece
of metal and comes alive as you hold it.
It feels warm and accepting. You close
your eyes and see the blade as a beam
of light. Your hand and arm, too, be-
comes a curving beam of light. After a
bit of concentration, you feel that the
two beams of light are now just one
long beam, extending forward from
your arm. Opening your eyes and
looking down, you see that the blade is
now a real part of you.
Like clairsentient powers, many psychoportive powers become more vivid if the
entire scene is described. If a character
teleports, she will naturally spend a few
moments acclimating herself to her new
surroundings. Even if the surroundings
are familiar, the minor shock of having all
sensory input change suddenly is slightly
You blink your eyes and glance about
you. The bright light hurts your eyes,
and you stagger, expecting the floor to
be rough and tilted, but your footing is
firm now. You are overcome with relief
to be out of the dismal, perpetual twilight of the Keep of Maror. The warmth
of the sun feels wonderful, and the
sounds of the familiar, nearby brook
bring to mind the early years of your
life, when all your adventures took
place in a broad meadow outside your
parents’ house.
If the psionicist has traveled a great
distance, her head might reel and her legs
might be shaky for a few seconds. This
need not be enough to cause her any real
problem, but they still add to the effect in
the player’s mind.
Powers that teleport other beings, such
as Banishment and Teleport Other, can
give the psionicist a glimpse into the locale
to which the other being is sent. Summon
Planar Creature can show the psionicist an
image of the plane from which the creature arrives. Such glimpses can be quite
exciting, and the DM can even use them to
further plots or introduce interesting
adventures. Alternatively, they can just be
used to touch up the description of the
This is where a DM’s description can
really make or break the excitement of
psionics. Exploring other beings’ minds
can be one of the most entertaining things
a PC will ever do. Even if the PC is just
contacting a mind to use Psionic Blast or
Psychic Crush, a description of the mind is
in order. Ask yourself what the mind
would look like. What substance is it made
of? Does it look like some kind of landscape? What are its features?
Suppose a PC tries to contact a zombie.
The PC would, of course, have nothing to
gain, because a zombie is mindless. How-
ever, this is an opportunity that a DM
should not resist. Describe the mind as,
say, a gray bowl of cold oatmeal in a dark
kitchen. As the PC tries to contact the
mind, he must mentally dive into the oatmeal. If he does so, he flounders about for
a few seconds, soon discovering that there
is no mind as such to contact. No one is
home! What could have been a humdrum
response of “You can’t use your power on
a zombie” has become an interesting
Successful contacts are, of course, much
more exciting. Perhaps the psionicist will
find her consciousness walking through a
twisted maze, with dark, repressed secrets
lurking behind every corner. Perhaps she
sees herself flying high above a miniature
planet on which the continents and geographical features are the memories and
thoughts of the individual.
One interesting technique is to ask the
psionicist what form she wants her consciousness to take as it tries to contact and
explore another being’s mind. She would
do well to shape her mind into either
something that the being would fear or
something it would trust. For example, if
she were trying to contact an elderly
wizard, she might shape her mind into an
embodied apparition of Death, from which
the aging wizard would shy away. On the
other hand, if she were trying to contact a
ranger, she might shape herself into a
Convention Calendar
Continued from page 38
Utah. Events include role-playing, SF&F and
historical miniatures games. Other activities
include guests, a painting contest, and dealers.
Registration: $20/weekend before July 31; $24 at
the door. Dealers are welcome. Write to: Comics
Utah, 258 E. 100 S., Salt Lake City UT 84111; or
call: (801) 328-3300.
BUBONICON 24, August 14-16
This convention will be held at the Ramada
Inn East in Albuquerque, N.M. Guests include
Thorarinn Gunnarson, Dell Harris, and Walter
Jon Williams. Activities include panels, readings,
movies, a play, parties, an auction, filking, and
the Green Slime awards (Saturday is Toga Day).
Registration: $20/weekend before July 31; $23 at
the door. Write to: NMSF Conference, P.O. Box
37257, Albuquerque NM 87176; or call: (505)
266-8905 10 A.M.-10 P.M. local time. No collect
calls, please.
August 20-23
This gigantic gaming convention will be
held at the MECCA Convention Center in
Milwaukee, Wis. Events include hundreds of
role-playing, board, miniatures, war, and
computer games. Other activities include
panels, seminars, workshops, the Exhibit
Hall, an art show, and a games auction, with
RPGA™ Network activities. Registration: $35/
weekend preregistered; $40/weekend at the
door. Write to: 1992 GEN CON®/ORIGINS™
Game Fair, P.O. Box 756, Lake Geneva WI
53147, U.S.A.
76 JUNE 1992
handsome, sturdy horse and trot into his
mind. Animal forms are a good way to
express the shape the psionicist’s mind
Another way to approach it is to ask the
PC to describe how he intends to get in to
the subject’s mind. Against a sturdy dwarf,
the psionicist might try to barge into the
stronghold of the dwarfs psyche. Against
an experienced diplomat, the psionicist
might mentally bow and wait to be “invited” in.
This is not, of course, to say that the
being who is being contacted will necessarily perceive the images that the psionicist has, but presumably on some level the
consciousness of the subject will interact
with the consciousness of the psionicist.
Particularly creative PCs might, at the
DM’s discretion, be given bonuses to their
power check rolls for intelligent and appropriate responses.
When a character uses a psionic defense
mode, it is a good idea to describe a physical appearance that is appropriate. For
Tower of Iron Will, obviously, a description of a tall, strong tower would be in
order. Intellect Fortress would be a broad,
sturdy stronghold. A psionicist up against
Mind Blank would wander through a
barren landscape, aware that there were
hidden features surrounding him but only
able to see the wide, empty expanse of
desolate plains.
DRAKCON ‘92, August 22-23
This fund-raising convention for famine relief
will be held at the Northern College of Education in Aberdeen, Scotland. Events include
RPGA™ Network AD&D® tournament, and a
figure-painting contest. Registration: £4 before
July 1; or £5.50 thereafter. Single-day tickets
will be available at the door. Write to: Sandy
Douglas, 13 Springbank Terrace, Aberdeen AB1
2LS SCOTLAND. All checks should be made
payable to Dragon Aid.
CON-SPIRACY ‘92, August 28-30
This convention will be held at the Omni
Durham Convention Center in Durham, N.C.
Guests include Greg Porter and Allen Wold.
Activities include RPGA™ Network tournaments,
workshops, Japanimation, speakers, an SF
movie room, miniatures and open gaming.
Registration: $25/weekend or $15/day. Write to:
NAARP, P.O. Box 2752, Chapel Hill NC 275152752. Make checks and money orders payable
PACIFICON ‘92, August 28-31
This gaming convention will be held at the
Dunfey Hotel in San Mateo, Calif. Ask about
special room rates. Activities include roleplaying and board-game tournaments, a flea
market, seminars, movies, painting contests,
dealers, auctions, and miniatures and open
gaming. Write to: PACIFICON, P.O. Box 2625,
Fremont CA 94536.
ORIGINS is a trademark owned by the Game
Manufacturers Assoc.
When a psionicist uses a power to alter
any creature’s mind in some way, describe
how it is done. With Telempathic Projection, the psionicist might have to adjust
emotional levers. With Aversion, the
psionicist might have to erect a mental
statue of the object of Aversion, surround
it with barbed wire, and set angry mental
guard dogs about it.
Vivid descriptions mean the difference
between another bunch of statistics to
look after and an entirely new and exciting dimension added to a campaign. The
effort to enhance the descriptions is not
necessarily small, but the depth that such
effort can bring is well worth the trouble.
Literature can be a great source of ideas
for enhancing the descriptions of psionics.
There are many science-fiction and fantasy books available that present psionics in
an entertaining way. TSR’s new DARK
SUN™ book, The Verdant Passage by Troy
Denning, offers excellent descriptions of
psionics based on the AD&D 2nd Edition
rules. Another good book is Queen of
Angels, by Greg Bear. Although the “psionic” interaction in this book is based
entirely on “science,” the book is a great
source for descriptions of living minds as
landscapes or worlds.
How effective was your convention listing?
If you are a convention organizer, please
write to our editors and let us know if our
“Convention Calendar” served your needs.
Your comments are always welcome.
Dragon Kings
AD&D® game DARK SUN™ accessory
by Timothy B. Brown
Only the most powerful characters are destined to rule Athas. Warriors with vast armies of
followers campaign for glory; rogues become
masters of illusory magic to further their deadly
schemes; spell-casters who can also master
psionics open whole new tomes of magic available only to them. This incredible addition to the
DARK SUN™ campaign setting presents the most
powerful characters, magic, and psionics ever!
$20.00 U.S./$24.00 CAN.
£11.99 U.K.
Product No.: 2408
RR5 Van Richten’s Guide to Ghosts
AD&D® game RAVENLOFT™ accessory
by William W. Connors
Follow Dr. Rudolph Van Richten, the leading
authority on the supernatural in the
RAVENLOFT™ setting, as he reveals how to hunt
the ghosts that lurk in the blackest shadows of
midnight. For countless years, Van Richten has
traveled the misty roads of Ravenloft on a
mission to destroy the undead wherever they
might be. Now, your characters can join him on
his courageous quest as he tells all that he has
discovered about the incorporeal undead. He
explains their origins, the passions that draw
them back from beyond the grave, and the
horrible powers bestowed upon them in unlife.
$10.95 U.S./$13.50 CAN/£6.99 U.K.
Product No.: 9355
MC 13 Monstrous Compendium
AGQADIM™ Appendix
AD&D® 2nd Edition game accessory
by Wolfgang “The Baron” Baur and
Steve Kurtz
Meet the wild, ferocious inhabitants of The
Land of Fate. Within this 64-page supplement to
the Monstrous Compendium line, you’ll find
noble and tasked genies, desert centaurs, giants,
ghuls, werelions, winged serpents, undead
giants, numerous sea creatures, and many
others gleaned from Persian and Arabian mythology and adapted to AD&D® 2nd Edition
game statistics.
$10.95 U.S./$13.50 CAN./£6.99 U.K.
Product No.: 2129
Fantasy Collector Cards
1992 Series, Part One
by TSR staff
One of 1991’s hottest collectibles is back,
offering even more unique and interesting
characters, monsters, and items for the discriminating AD&D® game player and card collector.
This year’s series features new, full-color artwork on one side and valuable game information on the other. Get yours and get them
early-these won’t last long!
78 JUNE 1992
$1.00 per pack U.S./$1.25 per pack CAN.
80p. U.K. incl. VAT
Product No.: 1075
CR2 Deck of Priest Spells
AD&D® 2nd Edition game accessory
by TSR staff
Now players who have priest PCs can assemble all the clerical spells their characters need to
know for easy reference. Each card contains all
the pertinent information necessary to use the
spell during an AD&D® game session. These
attractive and durable cards are both portable
and a terrific time-saver for players and DMs.
$18.95 U.S./$22.95 CAN./£13.50 U.K.
incl. VAT
Product No.: 9362
FRQ1 Haunted Halls of Eveningstar
by Ed Greenwood
One of the creators of the FORGOTTEN
REALMS® setting, Ed Greenwood details the
town of Eveningstar and its environs in this 32page module. Contained within is source material for the town of Eveningstar, near Cormyr,
and an adventure in the Haunted Halls that is
easily expanded to become a great starting point
for a FORGOTTEN REALMS® campaign. This
adventure is great fun for both AD&.D® game
novices and veterans.
$6.95 U.S./$8.50 CAN./£4.50 U.K.
Product No.: 9354
Thunder Rift
D&D® game accessory
by Colin McComb
This is the first entry-level accessory for the
new D&D® boxed game. This 32-page book
provides a minicampaign setting where
Dungeon Masters can place their adventure
modules. The product also describes several
villages, complete with descriptions of important NPCs for the player characters’ home
towns, plus plenty of mysterious sites for your
entry-level PCs to explore.
$6.95 U.S./$8.50 CAN./£4.50 U.K.
Product No.: 9357
Tales of the Lance boxed set
by TSR staff
This boxed set sums up a decade of heroes
and legends on the world of Krynn, the setting
of the DRAGONLANCE® saga, and is the perfect
introduction to playing in one of the oldest
fantasy worlds. Included in its 176-page book,
three double-sided mapsheets, 16 cards, and a
DM’s screen is the history of Krynn’s peoples,
their magic, and the world itself, all adapted to
the AD&D® 2nd Edition game. This set helps
DMs create the DRAGONLANCE® saga “feel” in
their own Krynnish campaign.
$20.00 U.S./$24.00 CAN/£11.99 U.K.
Product No.: 1074
HR2 Charlemagne’s Paladins Campaign
Source Book
AD&D® game historical reference
by Ken Rolston
Charlemagne was the last of the “barbarian
kings” in Europe. His reign marked the end of
the Dark Ages and the development of feudalism. Under his rule, most of Europe was united
into the Holy Roman Empire. His time was an
age of great deeds, heroic quests, and high
chivalry. Now add these elements to your own
AD&D® game campaign or actually play in the
age of Charlemagne’s paladins.
$15.00 U.S./$18.00 CAN./£8.99 U.K.
Product No.: 9323
Lands of DR. DOOM™ boxed set
by Anthony Herring and Scott Davis
Coinciding with Victor Von Doom’s 30th anniversary, this boxed set is the definitive treatment
of Marvel’s master villain. This product contains a
time line detailing all of Doom’s comic- book
appearances, a complete catalog of the technology he’s invented, and details and maps of his
home, Latveria. Pit your PCs against the best bad
guy around—Dr. Doom!
$20.00 U.S./$24.00 CAN./£12.50 U.K.
Product No.: 6906
Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalog
by J. Robert King, et al.
This 160-page almanac is a complete collection
of equipment and supplies for adventurers in
the Realms or any AD&D® game world. Resembling a turn-of-the-century mail-order catalog,
this books contains blankets, snowshoes, lanterns, tools, and many esoteric items; each is
accompanied by an illustration, a brief description, and other important factors such as weight
and cost.
$15.00 U.S./$18.OO CAN./£11.99 U.K.
Product No.: 9358
Goblin’s Lair Adventure Pack
D&D® game accessory
by Graeme Davis
Adventure abounds in this boxed set with
three battles and a stand-alone minigame. The
three scenarios, for character levels 1-5, can be
played separately or as a series of connected
adventures. The box also comes loaded with 3-D
game props.
$16.95 U.S./$20.50 CAN./£ 11.99 U.K.
incl. VAT
Product No.: 1076
WGR2 Treasures of Greyhawk
by TSR staff
This 96-page anthology focuses on miniadventures in the WORLD OF GREYHAWK®
setting: lairs, treasure-laden crypts, and more.
Each of these scenarios is designed to be played,
and completed in one evening. Enhance your
WORLD OF GREYHAWK® campaign with these
“drop-in” adventures.
$10.95 U.S./$13.50 CAN./£6.99 U.K.
Product No.: 9360
HHQ2 Wizard’s Challenge
AD&D® game solo module
by Tim Beach
Mages have special talents unlike those of any
other class, and those skills will be taxed to their
limits in this adventure where a lone wizard is
pitted against the acts of an unseen master
villain. The PC will need wits as well as spells to
escape this adventure successfully. The module
also includes statistics for new magical items
and spells, as well as a new monster.
$6.95 U.S./$8.50 CAN./£4.50 U.K.
Product No.: 9359
XXVC™ game accessory
by Dale “Slade” Henson
This 64-page book is a catalog of never-beforeseen tools, vehicles, weapons, and other gadgets
useful for all PCs in the XXVc™ game universe.
These items are described in detail with their
game effects and prices. This accessory is also
useful for other science-fiction role-playing
$9.95 U.S./$11.95 CAN./£5.99 U.K.
Product No.: 3582
Dance of the Dead
RAVENLOFT™ novel, Three
by Christie Golden
Dance of the Dead reveals some of the
fantastic secrets of Souragne, the island realm
of zombie lord Anton Misroi. Golden spins the
tale of Larissa Snowmane, a dancer aboard a
magical riverboat. When the boat arrives at the
undead-plagued island of Souragne, she finds
herself dancing to chilling music indeed. To save
her own soul, she must confront Souragne’s evil
master and learn the darkly powerful Dance of
the Dead.
$4.95 U.S./$5.95 CAN./£3.99 U.K.
Product No.: 8058
The Cataclysm
DRAGONLANCE® Tales II, Volume Two
by Numerous authors
The stories in this installment of the Tales II
Trilogy detail a fascinating time in the history of
Krynn, when the gods hurled a fiery mountain
down on Istar and plunged Ansalon into centuries of chaos. Read stories by Margaret Weis and
Tracy Hickman, Richard A. Knaak, Roger E.
Moore, Douglas Niles, Nick O’Donohoe, Dan
Parkinson, Michael Williams and others.
$4.95 U.S./$5.95 CAN./£3.99 U.K.
Product No.: 8347
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
XXVc is a trademark owned by The Dille Family Trust and
used with permission.
A game convention is the perfect
place to make new friends who enjoy the same hobbies you do —
whether you like board games,
role-playing games, miniature war
games, or just shopping around. If
you’ve never attended a game convention before, please check out
the Convention Calendar feature in
this issue for the game convention
nearest you. Take some of your own
gaming friends along, too — and
make it an experience to remember.
by Steven E. Schend
From within the lands of Doom
By now, the Lands of DR. DOOM™ boxed
game should be out on the shelves at your
local game and comic-book stores. As with
many of our projects, there is not always
room for every last little detail that we’d
like to put into our products; there’s only
so much we can fit into a box! This month,
I’ve compiled material I had to edit out of
this boxed set for space considerations—a
few random bits of technology that
wouldn’t fit into the catalog of Doom’s
gadgets—and now present it to you, the
readers of DRAGON® Magazine.
Even though Dr. Doom made these gadgets, and the “Availability” section with
each item tells you where the item can be
found and in what quantities, there is no
reason you can’t pick up these items and
use them for your own high-tech villains.
Even better, perhaps the villains in your
campaign gained the items by stealing
them from Dr. Doom himself. This could
lead to interesting encounters if your
master villains come to the players’ heroes
for protection from the Lord of Latveria.
Anesthetic nose plugs
These small devices are very basic in
design and equally so in effect. When
inserted in the nasal passages of a human
or other oxygen-breathing creature, the
plugs allow air to pass through them but
introduce a strong knock-out gas into the
air flow, keeping the victim unconscious.
Powers: Knock-Out Gas. The nose plugs
release an Incredible (40) Intensity knockout drug into the nasal passages of the
victim. When first inserted, a conscious
victim can make an Endurance FEAT roll
against the intensity of the gas to resist its
effects, continuing the Endurance FEAT
rolls each round until failure indicates
unconsciousness. The victim will awaken
1-3 rounds after the plugs are removed.
First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #352.
Material strength: Poor (4).
Tech rank: Incredible (40).
Availability: It is very likely that Doctor
Doom has at least 10 functional sets of
these nose plugs within Castle Doom.
Color by Stephen D. Sullivan
Deflection staff
This 6’-long metal quarterstaff is filled
with circuitry allowing it to absorb the
most punishing blow without breaking. It
has never been used by Dr. Doom, though
its capabilities as a defensive weapon are
Powers: Force Absorption/Deflection.
The staff is designed to absorb up to an
Unearthly (100) amount of physical or
Force damage directed against it, deflecting such damage away from the wielder of
the staff. If the wielder can succeed at an
Agility FEAT roll (Yellow or Red result
needed), he can also successfully deflect a
distance Force attack. The staff itself is
powerless, fueling its circuitry by absorbing the kinetic energy directed against it.
Limitation: Due to the kinetic energy
absorbing properties of its circuitry and
makeup, the deflection staff is useless as
an offensive weapon. It absorbs any damage it might do to an opponent, dealing
only Feeble (2) Blunt damage regardless of
the strength of the wielder.
First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #352.
Material strength: Incredible (40).
Tech rank: Monstrous (75).
Availability: The only working model of
this item exists in Dr. Doom’s personal
armory in Castle Doom. There are rumors
that Doom is adapting the design of the
staff, allowing it to absorb force and redirect it on contact with a target, though
this is idle speculation.
Entropic inducer
Developed recently during Dr. Doom’s
exile, this bulky pistol resembles the standard blaster Doom carries in his belt holster. Its ability to scramble nervous-system
impulses is effective against nearly any
living creature, though its most lethal uses
are saved for the hated Reed Richards’
elastic form (“My entropic inducer will
rearrange your body structure to a state
of maximum disorganization!“).
Powers: Nerve Scramble Effect. With a
range of four areas, the entropic inducer
shoots a blast that effectively overloads
the victim’s nervous system. The highly
specialized energy beam acts as an
Amazing (50) Energy attack in terms of
body armor or energy resistances, and it
cannot be absorbed by artificial or natural
powers without taking effect (e.g., Iron
Man cannot absorb this energy to power
his armor without scrambling his armor’s
The energy causes the victim to suffer
Incredible (40) Energy damage and to lose
control over all voluntary muscles, making
him fall and be effectively immobilized.
Due to the nerve scrambling, the victim’s
muscles are overloaded with stimuli and
do not respond to normal control for 2-20
rounds. Victims with any Elongation or
Size Manipulation powers find their bodies
82 JUNE 1992
rapidly fluctuating in size or shape as their
powers are scrambled for 4-40 rounds.
Endurance FEAT rolls can be made against
the Amazing Intensity of the energy, and
success allows the player to reduce the
time of the effect by 1d10 rounds (minimum of one round of effect).
First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #352.
Material strength: Excellent (20).
Tech rank: Monstrous (75).
Availability: Doom has tried to use this
item on only one occasion, but he has
constructed three working models. One
model of the entropic inducer is kept in
each of his castles (Castle Doom in Doomstadt, the capital of Latveria; the Citadel of
Doom in southeastern Latveria; and the
Fortress of Doom in New York state).
Null-time sequencer
Though Dr. Doom has developed his
own methods and mechanisms for time
travel, the null-time sequencer is the design of some other inventor from outside
the known universe. During Dr. Doom’s
undocumented jaunts through other dimensions and times, he “acquired” these
mechanisms to study. Used for a short
length of time in a duel against Mister
Fantastic, the null-time sequencers
brought Doom to the attention of the Time
Variance Authority (TVA).
Powers: Time Travel. A null-time sequencer allows the wearer to shift
through time and temporarily inhabit
space “outside” of time. The sequencers
operate at Amazing (50) efficiency, allowing the wearer up to five rounds of activity outside of the current flow of time. The
longest jump through time allowable with
a null-time sequencer is a little over one
hour into the past or the future. Note that
the null-time sequencers do not move the
wearer through space, only time; wielders
seem to teleport by shifting outside time
and moving to the desired location (seemingly instantaneously).
First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #352.
Material strength: Excellent (20).
Tech rank: Shift Y (200).
Availability: Doom used a pair of nulltime sequencers in his duel against Reed
Richards, though Doom’s was worn at the
end of the battle by a disguised Kristoff.
The sequencer worn by Mister Fantastic
was impounded by the TVA. Doom destroyed the only remaining time sequencer
to avoid detection and interference by the
TVA. It is highly probable that Doom at
least created a set of blueprints or plans to
gain knowledge of alternate time-travel
Quark instability condenser
Touted by Doom as his promethium
armor’s most powerful weapon, the quark
instability condenser was developed after
Doom left Otherplace with his magic-based
armor. Extremely effective against cyborgs
and robots, the condenser (incorporated
into one of Doom’s gauntlets) uses metal
and electrical systems against its victims,
causing extreme pain and disruption.
Powers: Quark Destabilizing Pulse. By
somehow harnessing a fraction of the
binding energies of atomic nuclei and any
free energies around or in the target, this
weapon causes variable damage to its
targets. Against normal, nonpowered
beings, this beam causes Amazing (50)
Energy damage. Any targets with innate
physical (but not mental) powers must add
their highest power rank to the Amazing
damage. For example, the pulse adds Unearthly damage to this amount (Shift X
(150) total) when used against the Hulk by
harnessing some of the energy from the
Hulks strength. For any armored, robotic,
or cybernetic target, add the highest
power rank to the damage as above, but a
Red Endurance FEAT roll is needed to
prevent paralysis of the mechanical systems for 2-20 rounds (White or Green
results on this FEAT roll signify permanent
dysfunction or destruction of specific
system; Yellow or Red results equal success). Iron Man’s armor would take Shift X
(150) damage from the pulse, and he
would need to make the Endurance FEAT
roll to save his armor from destruction.
First appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #352.
Material strength: Incredible (40).
Tech rank: Shift Y (300).
Availability: There was only one working
model of the condenser, and it was placed
in the mock-up promethium armor worn
by Kristoff at the end of Doom’s time-duel.
Planning to sacrifice Kristoff and the armor to the TVA, Doom certainly has blueprints for the construction of another
(though whether this is one of his own
designs or something stolen from another
time or place is unknown) hidden in his
library or lab in Castle Doom.
Next month, I’ll cover yet another corner
of the MARVEL UNIVERSE™, but I’ll continue to add in bits and pieces of Dr.
Doom’s technology and other sundries to
spice up everyone’s game campaigns. Keep
sending your comments to: The MARVELPhile, DRAGON Magazine, P.O. Box 111,
Lake Geneva WI 53147, U.S.A. We’d like to
know your thoughts on the current direction of the column and the MARVEL
SUPER HEROES game line in general.
The MARVEL-Phile's Marvel 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
he flute was white as ivory, white as
It had been made from a dragon’s
hollow wingbone, found one day by a
shepherd in a mountainside cave. The
bones had lain gleaming in the darkness, the high-arched ribs, the skull
with its deep hollow sockets, the razor-edged teeth. Yet it
was only one delicate wingtip that he took home to the
sod-roofed hut where he lived on the mountain, to spend
the long summer evenings patiently boring the
When it was finished he took it outside and blew the
first tentative note. The sound was thrillingly clear, high
and light. Soon, if he shut his eyes while he played, it
almost seemed that he could see dragons soaring, their
eyes like jewels, vast wings extended to catch the updraft
from the sunwarmed valleys far below.
Summer ended, and when the sky turned gray and the
cold wind began to blow down from the peak, the shepherd gathered his animals and went down into the valley.
Within days the trails were blocked by snow, and now was
the time to sit by the fire in the company of other men.
From time to time, when the tavern in the village was full
of laughter and dancing, the shepherd would take out his
flute and join in with the viol and recorder while the villagers skipped and rollicked to the well-known country
tunes. It was a good way to pass the winter evenings and
earn a tankard or two of thick brown ale.
But when the snow melted and the new grass came
green on the mountain, he gathered up his newly shorn
flock to drive it back up to the summer pasture. Now,
once again, his songs were of dragons and flight. They
seemed to come from the heart of the flute itself, as if the
hollow bone retained an echo of the dragon’s own voice.
So he sat and played on the mountainside one day when
suddenly a black shadow seemed to blot out the sun. As
his sheep ran bleating in mindless panic, he looked up to
see the vast shape of a dragon plunging down at him,
talons extended, tail lashing the sky in a frenzy of rage.
Then he heard its voice in his mind, even as he dropped
to the ground in a futile effort to evade those claws: Mlakazar! My mate! Death! Death! Who killed him? Who has his
The shepherd in his desperate terror cried aloud,
“No!” and felt the wind of the dragon’s passage engulfing
him in its hot, sulphurous scent as he awaited the piercing
agony of the talons seizing his flesh. But instead he rolled
free, cowering on the ground as the dragon hovered directly overhead, the beating of its wings battering him like
a gale. My mate! I heard the voice of his bones!
The shepherd in his fear got to his knees, stammering,
“ I . . . found the bones in a cave. I took only one—this
one—to make a flute. I never killed . . . never . . .”
Slowly the dragon lowered itself to the ground, transfixing the trembling man with its gaze, red tongue licking in
and out of its mouth. Yes, this is his, this is his voice. Show
me. Show me the rest of the bones.
He led, the dragon followed, claws scoring the earth of
the mountainside to bare stone. The cave was above the
grass line, a place the shepherd had found the year before
by Lois Tilton
Illustrations by Bob Walters
while climbing up to retrieve a strayed lamb. It was then
he had spotted the break in the rock and the dim gleam of
fleshless bone inside.
The dragon was only barely able to squeeze its bulk
through the opening of the cave. The bones lay as the
shepherd had found them, as they must have lain for tens
of years to be stripped and worn so white. The shepherd
felt the cry of the dragon’s grief: Mlakazar!
He began to plead for his life, “You can see how long
ago it must have been. I swear! I meant no harm! I never
touched—never took but the one bone. Oh, forgive!”
The dragon lowered its head in sorrow. The shepherd
could see now that it was old and a female, her blue-green
hide and scales worn. Her eyes were pallid opals, redveined with age. Let me hear, she said at last. Let me hear the
voice of my mate.
So the shepherd took his flute from his belt and with
shaking hands began to play. He played the song of flight,
the song of freedom in the air, glorying in the strength of
his wings. He played from the flute’s heart, not knowing
how he did, and beside him the dragon wept huge golden
His voice lives again, she said at last.
“I meant no harm,” the shepherd said again, uncertainly. “I was alone up here on the mountain. I thought, a
little music, a song or two . . .”
Yes, said the dragon. I know what it is to be alone. And
after a moment she spread her wings and beat her way
into the sky.
The shepherd immediately put down the flute and began to search the mountainside anxiously for his flock,
hoping they had not all plunged to their deaths in their
panicked rush from descending death. He glanced nervously up at the dragon, soaring about a distant peak,
well aware that she could easily swallow a sheep with a
single snap of her jaws.
It took three days to gather in the flock, scattered as
they had been. And for days after that he did not dare
touch the flute for fear of the dragon, that it might return
and devour them. Yet from time to time he could see her
far-off shape wheeling above him in the sky, bringing back
memories of the song of flight, and finally he realized that
nothing he did could endanger his sheep or protect them if
the dragon wished him harm. So he let the dead dragon’s
voice live again, and he was no longer alone on the
But as the summer days grew longer, the presence of the
dragon had other consequences. One day an armed man
rode up to the high pasture. A squire rode with him, leading a much larger stallion bearing weapons and armor,
most conspicuously a lance fully twelve feet long.
The shepherd pulled off his cap as the knight beckoned
him over. “Herdsman! Here! What do you know of the
“The dragon, lout! I’ve had word there’s a dragon been
spotted up in these mountains. Prime trophy! Looking for
his lair. Well?”
The shepherd glanced nervously up into the empty sky,
then shook his head. “No, Sir. No dragon up here, Sir.”
As the knight scowled, he added, “I couldn’t stay up here
JUNE 1992
with my sheep if there was a dragon on the mountain, Sir.
Not with my sheep.”
The horseman cursed and turned his glare onto his
squire, dismounting. “It’s getting late. I’ll stay here the
night. Go fetch one of those lambs.”
The shepherd protested in vain as his lamb was slaughtered and spitted over his own fire. The knight only threw
him a coin and ordered him to stop his complaints. In the
morning the unwelcome visitors rode on, but the shepherd
knew they would not be the last.
That winter, when he led his flock down from the
mountain, the villagers pressed him with questions of their
own, for they had seen the far-off shape of the dragon
soaring high among the peaks. But the shepherd would
admit nothing. Only, at last, that nothing had been at the
sheep, no dragon, no eagle, no stray pack of wolves. And
as they could see for themselves that the flock had not
noticeably diminished, the villagers could only shake their
But the shepherd kept mostly to himself throughout that
winter, nursing a solitary ale at the side of the fire, and
when the patrons of the tavern called for a song from his
flute, he shook his head, saying he had lost it on the
In the spring, he drove his flock out almost before the
snow had cleared the trails. Never had the mountain air
seemed so fresh and clean, the sunshine so bright. And in
the far, far-off distance, a speck of dark flew against the
glistening snowcaps, a dragon soaring on outspread
wings. His heart lifted at the sight.
She descended almost as soon as he had reached his
pasture, with a stiff rustle of leathery wings. Play, shepherd,
play. Let me hear his voice again. And the shepherd put the
flute of bone to his mouth and let the song of flight spill
“He was your only mate?” he asked her once.
The dragon shook her scarred, blue-scaled head. A mate
is for life.
“For life,” the shepherd said sadly, thinking of the
churchyard where he had buried his wife so many years
ago, before he went up onto the mountain. “Yes, it is the
same with some of us.”
The dragon was ancient, even for one of her kind. Her
leathery wings were scarred, her scales broken and
cracked. The shepherd was concerned, for all her immense size, thinking of errant knights and the cruel steel
heads of their lances. “This place is dangerous for you,”
he urged her, but again and again the dragon would return. Play, shepherd. Let his voice live again.
Then indeed rumors spread that a dragon had returned
to the mountains. Knights and other adventurers would
make their way to the high pasture in search of the great
head for a trophy, the fabled gold of the hoard. Always the
shepherd would show them the flock grazing placidly and
unmolested on the tender grass. “I’ve been grazing this
flock up here for half a man’s lifetime. Think you that I’d
bring my sheep to a dragon’s lair?”
So the season passed, and the one after. Each spring the
shepherd climbed the mountain trails more slowly. The
dragon’s eyes grew more dim.
Then one spring the sky was empty when the shepherd
arrived at the high pasture with his flock. He went to bed
that night with a heavy heart, and his flute was silent. But
in the morning when he opened the door of his hut she
was waiting for him, steaming in the mists. The huge
head hung low, and her wings were tattered. Play, shepherd.
Let me hear him one last time.
He played, and the music of the flute soared higher and
lighter than ever. He played until his breath was exhausted, while the dragon’s golden tears ran silently from the
faded veined opal of her eyes.
When he was finished, she began to creep away with
painful slowness, dragging her ruined wings. The shepherd knew her destination. He followed until she came to
the cave where her mate’s bones lay. Before she crawled
inside, squeezing her bulk through the narrow opening,
she turned one last time to face the shepherd. He was black!
Bright black! Mlakazar!
He waited until sunset colored the mountaintops, but
she never emerged again.
The shepherd returned to his solitary existence on the
mountain, to his sheep and their new lambs. From time to
time he would take out the dragonbone flute and play a
few notes, but the sky remained empty.
Then one day in late summer he felt a strange stirring
in his heart. He put the flute to his mouth and played the
old song of flight, the song of the dragon in his youth and
power, soaring on the highest currents of the wind.
At first the shepherd thought he must be dreaming. The
sky was full of dragons, wings outstretched, their jeweltone scales glinting in the sunlight. He blinked, and the
flute almost fell from his hands, but the dragons were still
there and he could hear their voices in his mind, crying,
Flight! Flight!
Then, as they dove closer, he saw that these dragons
were each no larger than a swan, and he realized they
must be newly hatched. Flight! they called. Flight! Flight!
And he played for them again, watching with renewed joy
as they swooped and plunged and tumbled in the air.
Though he spoke to them, they made no answer, only
repeating the same cry.
The next morning, the shepherd once again made the
climb to the cave near the mountain’s peak. His steps
were slower than they had been when he first made this
ascent and found a cave full of dry white bones. But this
time dragons played above his head.
The immense bulk of a dragon does not decay quickly,
even in the summer heat, and the shepherd had to tie a
scarf over his face before he could enter the dark, narrow
space of the cave. But as soon as his eyes grew accustomed
to the light, he was able to make out what he had
sought-the precious broken, gold-veined shards of the
dragons’ eggs, incubated long months in the decomposing
warmth of their mother’s remains. His heart raced at the
first sight of so much wealth, but at last he left the cave as
empty-handed as he had come. How could he sell them,
even downriver in the marketplace? How could he let the
world know of their existence?
Dragons flew over his head as he climbed slowly back
down the mountain.
There were twelve of them—gold and green and russet
and blue and a solitary jet-brilliant black. Their eyes were
bright, their wings supple and unscarred. They grew rapidly in the waning summer days, preying on the smaller
beasts of the mountainside. As their wings became stronger they went farther and farther from the cave, until they
were flying from peak to peak, higher and higher, until
they soared above the most lofty snowcaps.
Yet always they returned to the mountain where they
had been born, to the sound of the shepherd’s dragonbone
But there came a day in autumn, when the grass was
turning coarse and yellow, when the shepherd came upon
the carcass of one of his yearling lambs on an outcrop of
rock, torn open and half-devoured. The marks of a dragon’s talons were clearly visible on the remains.
Despite the shepherd’s increased vigilance, several days
later another lamb was missing. He grieved, knowing that
by the next spring the dragons would be grown strong
enough to carry off a mature ram. Now at last he felt the
bitter truth of the answer he had always made to the
questing knights, that he would not be able to pasture his
flock on the mountain if there were dragons laired nearby.
That fall he drove his sheep down to the valley before
the first snowflakes flew in the sky. Some of the villagers
shook their heads and wondered aloud how many more
years the old shepherd would be able to spend all alone up
on the mountainside. A few of them suggested that he
ought to hire a boy to run after the sheep. To all of them
the shepherd made scant response. He sat alone through
the winter evenings by the fireside of the tavern, and
when people spoke of dancing, none of them seemed to
remember the sweet, lively music of the bone flute, lost so
many years ago.
Then one evening, as night was coming on, there was a
commotion outside the tavern: the stamping of horses and
the ring of steel. The innkeeper bustled, shouting for his
sons to tend the beasts, his maids to look lively in the
kitchen and make up the best bed for the noble knight and
his servant.
The customers nearest the door hurried outside, followed
quickly by the rest. The shepherd left his seat last of all,
dread in his heart. The crowd had gathered thickly around
the horses, hindering the tavern’s boy in his efforts to lead
them into the stable. It was only at the last moment that the
shepherd caught a glimpse of what was tied across the largest
mount’s back, a dragon as large as the horse itself, wings
trussed up so they would not drag on the ground, the jeweltones of its eyes gone dull and its scales still lustrous, gleaming black, the rarest of dragon-colors.
Never again would his wings bear him up into the sky,
never again would he experience the pure joy of flight or
ever know the long, loyal happiness of a mate.
Soon the knight came into the tavern, followed by the
admiring company, where the landlord himself served him
his ale. He was a young fellow, fair and flushed with
pride, not at all reluctant to boast of his deed in slaying
the drake.
“He flew at me with his claws all extended, mouth wide
open, hissing—”
“Breathing fire?” one of the serving maids asked eagerly.
“Well,” the knight admitted, reluctantly compelled to
honesty, “not exactly.” He took a deep swallow of his ale.
“I couched my lance. The drake came at me, and I spitted him like a charging boar. The point of my lance ran in
below his ribs and out between his wings. The force drove
my mount to his knees.” The knight was on his feet with
the excitement of his own tale. “I jumped clear, pulled my
The crowd exclaimed at the bright ring of steel, stepping back as he pulled his blade free, reenacting the epic
battle. “But the drake was already dead. Killed with one
The shepherd at the back of the room shook his head in
sorrow. “Young and foolish, young and foolish,” he
thought. What had the black dragon known in his short
life of knights or lances or swords?
He realized suddenly that a question was being addressed to him. “You, shepherd! You graze your flock on
the mountains, is that right?” the knight was asking. “Did
you ever see any dragonsign up there? Any sign of a
The shepherd shook his head again. “Knights came
here before, asking me. No, no dragonsign on my mountain. Couldn’t bring my sheep up there if there was dragons, now, could I?”
As always, the crowd nodded in acknowledgment of this
obvious truth. The shepherd added, “Now, that one I saw
tied on the horse. I don’t think that one looked the size to
take a sheep. Lamb, maybe. Young lamb. Not a sheep,
The young knight scowled at this belittling of his deed
and shouted loudly to the innkeeper for more ale. In the
morning he would be gone with his trophy, but others of
his kind would come when they heard of his deed, eager
for dragonslaying. One by one the dragons would fall to
the lance, the gold and green and russet and blue.
It was a harsh winter that came to the valley that year,
filling the passes with snow, so that the village was cut off
for weeks from the rest of the world. By the time the snow
began to melt, the shepherd had sold his flock, telling the
buyer, “Getting too much for me, climbing up the mountain every year. Slowing down. Ache in my joints these
He pocketed the gold, little as there was. He might have
gotten a better price at the spring fair downriver at the
market town, but there wasn’t time for that.
He made one last stop before he left the village, at the
graveside of his wife. He knelt for a moment on the damp,
cold ground, but after so long he hardly knew what to say.
“Not like a dragon,” he thought, getting stiffly back to his
feet. “We forget.”
Without his flock, he was only three days climbing up
to the hidden cave, even with the half-melted banks of
snow blocking his way. From time to time he glanced up,
and at last he saw them, the faraway specks that were
dragons circling overhead.
At the very back of the fissure in the rock, beyond the
carcass of the blue-green dragon, the precious gold-veined
broken shells were still untouched. Carefully, he picked
them up, the green, the red, the jet, and put them away in
JUNE 1992
his pack. Then, using his knife, he began to cut away a
single hollow wingtip bone from the dried and leathery
It was different working this half-raw bone, scraping
away the adhering hide, carving out the holes for his
mouth and fingers. When it was finished, the flute had a
shrill, harsh tone, with a melancholy pitch that hinted of
pain and bereavement.
The shepherd put down his tools and stepped outside
his hut. Lifting his head to the sky, he put the flute to his
mouth and began to play. It was a song of peril and death.
Dragons writhed on sharp lances tearing through their
vitals. Swords hacked at broken scales, at the delicate
bones of their wings, breaking, crippling. No longer able
to fly, the dragons twisted, turning in vain on their tormentors, helpless against the steel of their weapons.
Dragons died. Their blood poured out onto the green
grass, singeing it brown. Their sightless skulls were impaled on spears as trophies. Their mates circled in the sky,
bereft, keening their grief, while their bones slowly
bleached bare and white, to crumble at last into powder
and dust.
And constantly as a counterpoint to the song, repeated
again and again: Flee! Far away! Far away!
The shepherd played until his lips could not shape another note, until his fingers, with their aching joints, could
barely move. When he put down the flute at last, the sky
was empty.
Alone, he waited on the mountain, but the dragons did
not return.
And when several days had passed and he was sure, he
took both flutes and snapped them in half and laid them in
the cave with the rest of the dragons’ bones.
The path he took down from the mountain led not to
the village of his birth but farther downriver to the market
town and its spring fair. And beyond to the cities of the
plains, where no man could see the snowcapped mountains and the glint of dragons flying against the sun.
“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.
Two years ago, we presented a three-part
series in “Forum” on the attacks being made
upon role-playing games and our readers reactions to the situation (issues #160-162). We
continued our look at the problem with this
column in issue #181. Interested readers may
also consult the editorials in issues #125, 134,
151, 158, and 171 for further commentary.
I was extremely concerned to read about all
the bad publicity RPGs are receiving in the U.S.
While I recognize that letters written to “Forum“ are usually from victims of the worst
possible circumstances, I had no idea that the
problem was so serious. I was also upset by
Michael Natale’s letter [regarding the use of evil
characters in role-playing games] in issue #152.
He seems to think the readers of DRAGON
Magazine know nothing about role-playing and
feels compelled to inform us that “it is fantasy. It
is not reality . . .” I believe that most of us know
that, and all the letters I have read complaining
about playing evil characters were from people
who objected for fear of bad publicity, rather
than any personal reservation.
For example, I was talking to an RPG shop
owner who had to talk an overenthusiastic
friend out of holding a session of Chaosium’s
CALL OF CTHULHU* horror game while
dressed in black robes, by candlelight, at midnight, with pentagrams all over the walls! While
the shop owner had no objection to the idea
(which would certainly have been either terrify-
ing or comical), he didn’t want to take the risk
of anybody finding out about it, especially since
his friend also played in a club with fairly young
children. This is the sort of silly behavior roleplayers are trying to stop. Nobody is accusing
you of being a satanist, Mr. Natale; they are
merely trying to stop the general public from
calling you one. It doesn’t matter how confident
you are of keeping yourself separate from your
character (a fairly simple exercise, I agree),
because if RPGs are made socially unacceptable,
you won’t be given the chance to role-play any
type of character.
Over here, thank goodness, the media doesn’t
have quite as much influence as in the U.S., and
it isn’t very interested in RPGs at the moment.
The vast number of TV channels in America
means that news stations are always looking for
new “crusades” about subjects previously of
interest to a minority, whereas in the U.K. RPGs
enjoy a relatively pleasant obscurity.
Nevertheless, I have encountered certain fears
and prejudices concerning my beloved hobby.
Prompted by my anger at this, I recently wrote
an essay on the subject. My English teacher was
impressed; indeed, he was impressed enough to
show it to my French teacher, who had been
criticized in the essay. My initial panic at this
news was replaced by a determination to get
some issues sorted out. I arranged an appointment to discuss the matter.
On the day before I was due to have this
discussion with my French teacher, I found
myself very nervous. My words seemed rash,
my criticisms overly harsh. I brought along a
friend (the two of us can talk our way out of
anything) for moral support. Four days later,
after several more hastily arranged discussions
with both teachers (both, incidentally, are
Christians), we decided that we had exhausted
the topic and parted on good terms.
I was astounded. I had expected floods of
accusations over devil worship and strange
rituals, but that sort of nonsense was dismissed
in the first minutes of discussion. We spent the
rest of the time talking about fears I had never
considered to exist. Was role-playing an addictive game? Might it not take up valuable study
time? Did it destroy a person’s social life? Was it
too expensive for young, impressionable enthusiasts? Was it right to “play” with morals by
playing characters of different personality
types? (There was no question of actually permanently adopting a character’s role, as in the
infamous film, Mazes and Monsters). Have we
role-players ever been altered by playing a
character? If so, was the change for better or
My friend and I could answer some of these
questions, whether curious or concerned, just
by explaining some part of the game that had
not been known to our teachers. Other questions made me think very hard about roleplaying and how I might or might not be
changed by it.
The whole affair was very satisfying, and I
went away feeling that I had managed to illuminate some concerned observers and clear my
own thinking at the same time. My friend
agreed. The moral of this little story is: Find out
what people are worried about, then talk to
them! Many of the worries of those who are not
role-players are incomprehensible to us. Some
of the concerns are reasonable and deserve
reasonable answers. . . . The fact that [roleplaying games] are safer than parties, football,
driving, fishing, crossing the road, or getting
drunk is one that should be pointed out to
“normal” people. Not everyone who thinks roleplayers are mad is mad himself; some are merely a little misguided.
Tim Harford
Aylesbury, Bucks, U.K.
Some years ago I met a guy, and we soon
became friends. We had both been role-playing
for a number of years, and we were part of a
group that met regularly at my house. In fact,
we became such good friends that the friendship extended outside of the role-playing meetings. This went on for three or four years.
Then, one summer, he joined the Baptist
Church and became a born-again Christian. He
immediately denounced role-playing as being
linked with satanism and came of the opinion
that role-playing was evil. Now, this was from a
player and GM of six or seven years’ experience.
Needless to say, there was no satanism involved
in our regular game meets, just clean fun for a
few friends who liked to role-play.
That was two and a half years ago now. Since
then, he has occasionally returned to our group
to role-play but has always denounced it again
afterward. Our role-playing group has grown in
size and still meets on a regular basis. None of
us have ever been satanists. Although I am a
subjective observer, I would not say that any of
us are evil. My friendship with this guy has
been on an on-and-off basis as I have done
everything in my power to keep him as a friend.
However, things came to a head recently. He
showed up at my house for the sole purpose of
calling our friendship to an end, his reasons
being my liking for horror films, the fact that I
role-play, and the fact that I have just begun to
turn my enjoyment of role-playing into a moneymaker with my first project for a professional
game company. I’m fully sympathetic to my
Christian friend; I have not enticed him to
continue role-playing with us and have tried to
smooth over the waters wherever I could. I
refused to accept that I could not role-play and
keep a Christian friend at the same time when I
am doing no harm to anybody.
My friend had a great many role-playing
games, novels, and miniature figures in his
possession when he joined the church. Not all of
them belonged to him; some were on loan. All
of these items were destroyed! In no way whatsoever can I see any logical reason behind the
destruction of the printed word, in any form. I
am against all forms of censorship, and I recall
that during World War II the Nazis burned a
great many books. I leave you all to draw your
own conclusions.
I am a role-player. I will stand up for roleplaying wherever there is a need for such
support. I will not be persuaded by the church
or anyone else to “give up my evil ways” as I
harm no one. My role-playing group provides its
members with enjoyment, camaraderie, and
support without detriment to anyone.
I have, however, lost my first friend over this
matter. I sympathize with role-players everywhere who have experienced this type of problem, and worse ones, too, especially the younger
role-players who cannot invoke their own rights
of independence yet. My advice to all roleplayers who are called to give up their ways is
to stay cool. Don’t get angry, and don’t do anything that proves their point. If somebody
makes a claim against role-players, make sure
they’ve got their facts right. Check them out.
Don’t get upset and shout; instead, you want to
research your own argument. It will pay off,
because we are not in the wrong. Many things
in this world are not right. Role-playing bears
the brunt of many lies and false accusations,
and it is a subject that causes paranoia and fear
among the ignorant.
What first began in the U.S. has come to
England. Many religious denominations have
subscribed to a point of view that classifies roleplaying as evil. Newspapers and magazines are
beginning to latch onto this, and TV now hosts
regular chat shows, on both sides of the Atlantic, where the witch hunt has begun against
role-players. These shows are generally underrepresented by the role-playing community, and
a sinister light is always cast over those roleplaying supporters who do appear. The future
does not bode well.
There is a storm coming that is going to
attempt to wash away role-playing and leave no
trace. Before that happens, all role-players,
game companies, and others involved must arm
92 JUNE 1992
themselves—not with weapons, threats, or
anger, but with facts, honesty, and calm. Let us
not become the witches of the 20th century.
Geoff Pass
Frimley, Surrey, U.K.
Issue #161 gave me some food for thought on
the (old but new) issue of satanism and the D&D
game. Here are a couple of notes I’d like to add:
Michael Shigetani points out that there is no
organization “that represents gamers as a
whole.” While he might not be aware of any
such organizations, I wish to point out that
several exist, and to find one, you simply need
to flip a few pages in DRAGON Magazine.
(RPGA™) Network is an international organization of gamers, headquartered in Lake Geneva,
Wis. In addition to providing a newszine and
other benefits for its members, it provides an
avenue of communication that Mr. Shigetani
may feel is lacking. Through the RPGA Network,
I have met many gamers both locally and
throughout the United States. It provides an
avenue of communication that other forums
can’t. “Forum,” for instance, is not the place to
find gamers in your local area (though a couple
of people have found me that way). But the
classified-ad section in the RPGA Network’s
POLYHEDRON® Newszine is just such a place; to
find someone in your area, and call or write.
I point out the RPGA Network only because it
is the one with which I am most familiar. It is
not my intention to “brag up” the network,
though I normally don’t hesitate. My purpose is
simply to point out that organizations of gamers
do exist, and they are many. For information on
a local game club, check with local libraries,
schools, or gamers.
Craig Barrett’s point about creating a risk-free
world is excellent. I long ago came to the conclusion that some day someone would come out
with a study proving breathing is dangerous to
our health. When that happens, we’ll all have to
walk around wearing signs saying, “The Surgeon General has determined that breathing can
be dangerous to your health.” A humorous point
but a true one, in my view.
Finally, I turn to the fundamentalist Christian
point of view. I can express only sympathy at
some of the things I hear. I know a number of
fundamentalists, born-agains, and others, and
they are nice people on the whole—just like
gamers, right? But some of them are decidedly
short-sighted and narrow-minded in their views.
People who cannot allow for any variation in
the beliefs of people trouble me, and I don’t
know what to do about them. This has been a
large problem for me in the area of RPGs. I have
seen these people have RPGs removed from
schools and electronic bulletin boards (and
other media) all in the name of what is right and
It makes me wonder. They go on about their
right to get the world to believe what they
want, which is okay with me. But they, in doing
so, trample on my right to do the same. I won’t
point out any people because. we can find them
anywhere we live.
Aaron Goldblatt
Fort Worth TX
I am a freshman at UW-Madison, majoring in
psychology and drama. Once I get my degrees, I
plan to enter the seminary and become a Lutheran minister. I’ve played role-playing games
since I was in the fifth grade, and I’ve been a
Christian for much longer.
I’ve played most RPGs out on the market, but
more often the AD&D game than anything. I’m
currently involved in two campaigns, one good
and one evil. I personally enjoy the good campaign much more, but I’ve learned important
lessons in the evil campaign. Evil characters
don’t usually live very long, because someone
else in the party usually wants that vorpal
sword more than an extra character in the
party. You can’t trust anyone, and what good
does it do you to have 5,000,000 gold pieces?
You end up wasting it on guards (whom you
can’t trust), traps, and protection spells with
expensive material components. Also, demon
lords are worth more experience than devas, so
why not be good?
There is nothing inherently evil about the
D&D game! The “evil” symbols on page 42 of the
AD&D 1st Edition DMG are not satanic. On the
contrary, the pentagram is a Christian symbol
representing a Christian with arms outstretched, feet firmly planted in the ground, and
face turned to Heaven. The satanists (being
unoriginal) reversed it in irreverence. The
equilateral (thaumaturgic) triangle is a symbol of
the Divine Trinity, and the circle is a symbol of
the Eternal God. As far as the Greek letters in
the magic circle, I used half of them in my last
calculus test. Are math and most sciences evil?
There is nothing wrong with a choice of good
and evil. We all face that choice daily, and to say
“You aren’t allowed to be evil” is a bit naive.
Lastly, I would like to point out the section
marked “THE GAME” on page 9 of the AD&D
1st Edition DMG. A touch of realism is necessary
for continuity, but it is still a game, just as one
can play Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
and still be a good person. A play has that name
for a reason, just as RPG stands for role-playing
Dale Critchley
Madison WI
I am writing to you about the last two term
papers I have written. I am a sophomore at
UNH, majoring in electrical engineering, but I
have had two English courses that required
research papers. One is about the vocabulary of
RPGs, which I have just finished. This one
prompted this letter, since I used articles from
DRAGON Magazine as sources for my paper. I
was surprised that I could use the techniques
from linguistics to study the word usage in
RPGs. The games have generated lots of vocabulary that I commonly use now.
The first paper was on the possible psychological effects of RPGs on players. I used articles
from psychology journals. The conclusion of my
paper was that there are no definite connections between RPGs and suicide cases of players.
In fact, there was an article I found in which the
D&D game was used to help children develop
cooperation skills. This research was in support
of what I believed, but I tried to find sources
that contradicted that view. None of those
articles were published in journals because such
ideas have no basis. Conclusion, RPGs do not
have harmful psychological effects.
I would just like to thank all the people who
work so hard to create DRAGON Magazine,
since I have benefitted from the magazine not
only in gaming aspects but in academic aspects
as well. Keep up the good work!
Michael Neveu
Nashua NH
I’ve been an AD&D player for 10 years now.
All this time I’ve been hearing all sorts of groups
putting down RPGs. I don’t know about my
fellow gamers, but I’m not going to continue to
take this. I suggest a course of action to TSR and
my fellow gamers.
First, go to civic and church leaders. Explain
to them and show them what RPGs are really all
about. Second, stand up for your rights. This is
about more than just RPGs and gamers; it’s
about us being denied our civil rights. I don’t
think we should allow people who don’t understand what gaming is all about to deny us a
means of entertainment that we enjoy. Besides,
I’m not going to let a bunch of sanctimonious
hypocrites dictate to me. If we don’t stop them
right now, they will eventually outlaw RPGs. I
don’t presume to speak for anyone else, but I’m
not going to just stand by and let this happen.
Therefore, I urge and ask everyone connected
with RPGs to speak out and make your voice
heard. Most importantly, we have to make the
general public aware of the crime being committed against us: censorship.
If we don’t make our point of view known,
how can we expect anyone to begin to understand? We should not allow the myth to continue that RPGs or gamers are evil or satanic.
The poor confused souls who think so should be
shown how wrong they are. Informing these
people is the first step to gaining acceptance for
RPGs and gamers alike. I’m writing this letter to
you, the gamers, but realize it’s the nongamers
who have to be reached. We can’t do this by
writing letters to gaming publications. Instead,
write to newspapers and congressmen. Talk to
the people who need to hear us.
Richard Doyle
Union MO
Recent “Forum,, letters often start out like
this, “I am a Christian and an AD&D game
player . . .” It’s as if these writers feel it is necessary to lend a sense of ‘Christian goodness,, to
the “onerous” AD&D game. This is truly preposterous. One does not have to excuse his roleplaying to anyone. When someone tells you that
he plays the MONOPOLY* or TRIVIAL PURSUIT* games, he doesn’t preface it with an
explanation of his religious beliefs. To do so here
demeans the game.
Having been a player for 13 years and the
head of a school gaming group, I have seen all
kinds of role-players. Most of these players
never had their religious beliefs compromised,
and all were welcome to participate in our
shared world. A few players over the years
have been Muslim and one player was a Hindu,
but for the most part they were undoubtedly
Christian since Christianity is the most prevalent religion in this area.
If any players voiced objections with the
game, it would be explained to them that not
playing is an option that is always open to them.
None of my players have ever asked if the
AD&D game fits into any sense of “Christian
morality,” and absolutely no one has ever been
forced to play. In fact, in the few times that our
group has been disrupted by difficult players, it
has been because of their attitudes and their
inability to separate their characters from
themselves. These players would object to any
actions by other characters (PC and NPC) if it
did not meet with their personal moral standards and rules. They lacked the ability to fantasize and let themselves be swept away to a
different world. After all, that is the greatness
that the AD&D and all other role-playing games
In deference to Mr. Bartmess (issue #162),
good does not always win in our world, and the
players are consistently not evil but not necessarily lawful good or neutral good. It would
seem that in Mr. Bartmess’s campaigns, it
doesn’t really matter what actions the players
take, since good will always defeat evil. Prede-
termination of the outcome of an AD&D adventure removes the “adventure” and robs the
players of the uncertainty of victory. Mr.
Bartmess’s players must surely lose battles, but
they know that eventually the war will be won.
The adventurers in our AD&D game world
often unwittingly unleash more evil than they
initially set out to destroy. The players affect the
outcome of the game through their actions, and
they often “screw up!” However, these moments
are often the most memorable and open up
role-playing possibilities for months to come.
Mr. Bartmess makes the comment that “there
is elemental evil in the real world,” and that
messing around with Ouija boards, tarot cards,
and the like will break down the barriers between ourselves and Satan. This is the same
kind of thinking that has so disparaged the
AD&D game. To believe that using entertainment objects such as fortune-telling devices will
somehow bring Satan into your life is as ludicrous as claiming that the AD&D game is the
tool of the devil.
Our game club often uses tarot cards and the
like as props in our CALL OF CTHULHU* adventures. Narrow thinking not only destroys
role-playing opportunities but limits one’s ability
to encompass all of the richness of this alternate
world. It is a short step from Mr. Bartmess’s
point of view to criticism of the Buddhists,
Hindus, Daoists and other religions for their
rituals and beliefs.
Jeffrey S. Kennedy
Lansing MI
I was very interested to see a sampling in
issue #161 and 162 of the letters you’ve accumulated that either defend D&D and AD&D games
or comment on the attacks being made against
these games. Thank you for including my letter
among them. I consider myself to be in very
good company.
But isn’t it about time we went over from
defense to “attack”? I’d like to comment on some
of the good things about AD&D games—good,
not merely from a fan’s point of view, but from
a societal point of view, (Yes, Virginia, there are
generally beneficial aspects of D&D and AD&.D
games, if only people would take time to look
for them.) I’m going to talk just about the AD&D
game, which is the game I know, but I have
every reason to believe that my comments cover
all role-playing games.
First, the AD&D game is not an adversarial
game. In a properly run campaign, the players
do not consider the DM to be an opponent, and
you don’t have to defeat another player in order
to win. In fact, defeating another player isn’t
going to do you any good. The games simply
aren’t oriented in that direction.
This leads me to my second point: the AD&D
game teaches the sovereign virtue of cooperation! With the exception of the exceedingly rare
solitaire game, you have to cooperate with the
other players in order to succeed at an AD&D
game. As TSR incessantly points out, the game is
designed so that, when properly run, no one
player character can survive on his own, It
takes the combined and effectively intermixed
powers of all the player characters to win an
AD&D game.
Is anyone out there listening? In a world that
has become so small, thanks to the modern
technological miracles of travel and communications, we can no longer afford the luxury of
determinedly going our own way, independent
of everyone else and immune to everyone else’s
interests. The days of isolationism are over.
Cooperation is now the name of the real game
in the real world. We have become a world of
neighbors, and unless we can learn to regard
other people as potential partners, we are all
going to be in a great deal of trouble. The
AD&D game teaches that! If there were no
other value to AD&D games, this single fact
would deserve enormous consideration.
But there are other values. Do you worry that
your children aren’t learning to read? My mother was a high-school English teacher here in
Colorado. Some of her students didn’t want to
read, either. Shakespeare and company, the
usual fare offered in high-school English classes,
was not only beyond their capacity, it was also
completely without interest to them. But a lot of
her students were “stompers” —sons and daughters of local ranchers, She thought that if she
could start them reading something they liked,
even if it was “low tech,” the growing interest in
reading would bleed over into other areas. Do
you know what she started them on? Western
novels. Louis L’Amour. Zane Grey. Max Brand. It
got so that the high-school library couldn’t keep
these books in stock. And, yes, the growing
interest in reading did expand into other areas.
Now, while the AD&D game isn’t classical
literature, neither is it easy reading. It requires
concentration and a degree of dedication, virtues that educators claim is lacking in modern
students. But the AD&D game obviously interests a wide variety of people, and in order to
play AD&D games you have to be able to read!
Not only that, you have to be able to read well.
You have to study the rules. You have to know
what’s going on. So let your children read! Let
them read what interests them. Get involved in
what your children are doing. Find out what
kind of AD&D campaign they want to play in.
Guide them to the right kind of world, and their
interests are going to expand. You will soon
discover that they have discovered that there
are other worlds to explore. The library is full
of those worlds, and all your child needs is a
starting point. If the AD&D game is what he’s
interested in, make the game that starting point.
Did I mention concentration, dedication, and
study? They go hand-in-hand with any kind of
role-playing game. You can’t get into the game if
you don’t have those attributes, and interest in
the game will quickly build those attributes—
through the example of other players, if in no
other way.
How about initiative and imagination? The
AD&D game breeds these attributes, too. No
one “coasts” through a game: The other players
won’t allow it, and the whole environment of
the game encourages every player to take part.
Sure, in the beginning a new player has the
luxury of just going along, watching what the
other players do. Very soon, however, he’s going
to be encouraged to get involved in the action
and start taking the initiative, especially if his
character has skills or abilities that the other
player characters lack. This means using his
imagination, to image himself in a totally different environment Exercising the skills of initiative and imagination in one area means he’ll
start using them in other areas—like the real
world—as well. Isn’t that what we want?
I’ll add self-control to the list. The AD&D
game isn’t easy on the ego: You have to take
risks in order to succeed, and you run the
particular risk of failure. Player characters get
killed off. This is something you have to learn to
take in stride. I won’t tell you how many of my
PCs have met an ill-deserved demise, or how
many temper tantrums I threw before I learned
that the same thing has happened to a lot of
other players. But I learned, and that’s the point.
You learn to accept disappointment and momentary defeat in order to come back from them,
and you keep on playing until you discover the
way to victory. Do you know of anyone in the
real world who can’t use that particular lesson?
The there’s ambition and leadership. To tamper with real literature, let me paraphrase:
“Breathes there a player with soul so dead, he
never to himself has said, ‘I want to be a
Dungeon Master?“’ The DM is the ultimate
leader of the group. You have to work hard to
be a DM. You have to know the game at least as
well as the best of your players. You have to
take time by yourself to create your own world.
In other words, in addition to being ambitious
and a leader, you have to be a self-starter, willing to work on your own, and you have to be
creative. You have to know how to communicate
with your players. You have to be even-handed
in settling disputes, and you have to be fair. Not
everyone succeeds at this, but the challenge is
open to all.
I could go on, but what’s the point? If these
virtues aren’t enough to persuade educators and
parents that AD&D games (and all role-playing
games) deserve a closer look, those educators
and parents had better look to themselves. Let
them examine their own motives and values. Do
they want to raise and train young people who
will take over the leadership of this nation? Or
do they want sheep and robots who won’t cause
trouble or rock the boat?
Read through your history. The people we
consider to be great men and women were,
above all else, boat rockers. They were unwilling to accept the world as they found it. They
wanted something better, and they had the
courage to reshape the world to fit their personal vision of what it should be.
The AD&D game is one tool that can help
build such people. Emphasis: One tool that can
help. It’s a game, and there’s no better way to
teach than through fun. The game deserves to
be viewed in that light. I just hope it won’t ruin
the fun for players to find out how good the
game is for them.
Craig H. Barrett
Canon City CO
Attention, gamers! I have been playing various
role-playing games since I was nine. I have had a
steady subscription to DRAGON Magazine for
the past two years and have kept a close eye on
“Forum.” For the 16 years I’ve been alive, nothing has irked me more than finding out about
organizations such as BADD and reading about
the various talk shows and what-not that have
thrown the game in the mud and stepped on it.
Well, for once in my life I’m not going to take it!
Most of the people I know have, at one time or
another, played a role-playing game and enjoyed
it. What’s the problem? I don’t think anyone out
there can say he fully knows. I do know, however, that it is not right.
Well, what can we do about it? Just us, the
average gamers? I’ll tell you. Write your congressmen. That’s what they are there for! Write
to some of those talk shows like 60 Minutes, and
when you’re done writing, get your friends to
write and tell them to get their friends to write.
Get your parents to write. How about holding a
gaming session open to the public? Let them see
what it really means to play the AD&D game.
There are countless other things we can do to
stop this atrocity. We as a whole need to let our
thoughts be known. Don’t be afraid to voice
your opinions or thoughts. If everyone took
some kind of nonviolent action, which is what
we need, we would rock the boat, but it would
make one hell of a wave that would be hard to
If you print this, would you please print my
94 JUNE 1992
full address? I’d like to find out other ideas on
this subject (and, of course, maybe some new
ideas for the game itself).
Nathan Nieman
PSC Box 2204
APO SF 96293
I just finished reading “Forum” in issue #160
and was once again dismayed to see that there
are still advocates of the “AD&D game is an
outlet for satanism” school of ignorance. I have
avoided being exposed to the TV episodes of
Sally Jessie Raphael and Shirley by simply
refusing to own a television for the past 10
years. I prefer to spend my leisure in less passive but more stimulating and educational
I was first introduced to the AD&D game
while in graduate school in 1981. A friend
related episodes of her game to me, which I
must admit sounded rather bizarre. (“I see,” I
said. “You say that last night you built a crash
pad outside a city wall for your friends to land
on because they were catapulted out of the city,
then you ran off into the woods where you
defeated a band of orcs? Uh-huh. What’s an
orc?“) However, after I actually observed and
participated in a gaming session where I was
able to make a few intelligent moves, I realized
that one could become far more imaginatively
and creatively involved in role-playing games
than in any sort of board game. The strategy
and risk-taking thrills can only be compared, I
suppose, to the experiences of dedicated bridge
and chess players.
Our DM was thorough, intelligent, and fair.
His ability to develop a challenging and stimulating world was a model for those of us who later
attempted the DM’s role. During the five or six
years that I’ve played the game, both as a player
and a DM, we never simulated anything that
even remotely approached satanism, devil
worship, or deviance. The only things ritually
sacrificed were a few pizzas and many soft
drinks. Regarding religion, we never “worshiped” anything, nor did we discredit or compromise the beliefs of any players in the group.
We also had one of the few groups around that
had fairly equal representation of male and
female players.
I find that games like the AD&D game produce an equivalent of what the old practice of
storytelling used to do—i.e., weave a story
gripping to the imagination and perhaps even
contributing to the oral tradition of a culture.
Today, L.A. Law, The Simpsons, and last night’s
ball game determine our fun and culture. While
perhaps entertaining, network programming is
passive and exists only as a vehicle for advertising. In role-playing games such as the AD&D
game, people actively create their own entertainment and learn in the process.
As a final note, none of the players in my
group have become satanists, nor have they
committed suicide, animal (or human) sacrifice,
child molestation, or murder. We haven’t run
around in sewers, terrorized picnickers in the
parks, or vandalized the property of people we
haven’t liked. We have gone our separate ways
but are all making positive contributions to
society. Rachel now has a Masters in theology
and is working among the poor in Brazil with
the Mennonite Central Committee (an organization not known for devil worship). Peter is an
M.D. in the United States specializing in family
medicine. Alex is a sales manager for a company
in Toronto. Shanley is finishing her Ph.D. in
linguistics on the native peoples of northern
Canada. Joycelyn (the last I heard) is a codirector of a community drop-in youth center in
New Brunswick. Steven has started his own
computer consulting company as he studies
electrical engineering at McGill University, and I
have a Masters degree in counseling psychology
and am the director of the Student Counselling
Service at a small Canadian university.
I cannot say that participation in the AD&D
game directly contributed to our various accomplishments and successes, but it did provide
diversion and entertainment, developed friendships, offered decision-making and leadership
opportunities, and promoted “fair play” and a
unique situation in which to practice judgment
and teamwork. I can definitely say that participating in the game did not take anything away
from us.
Don Jamieson
Fleurimont, Quebec
I am sick to death of narrow-minded individuals who think they can dictate what is an
acceptable pastime and what is not.
My hobby doesn’t hurt anyone. It can be
enjoyed anywhere. This hobby’s expense is up
to the individual who starts it. My hobby is no
one’s business but my own and that of its other
enthusiasts. My hobby is playing the
I can’t tell just anyone this without him running off at the mouth about satanists, lunatics,
or some kid committing suicide. “You play that
evil game?” they say, and they give you that
remind-me-not-to-let-you-baby-sit-my-kids look.
Why are there still people out there who insist
they know more about a game they have never
played than a person who plays it? I don’t claim
to know more about golf than a golfer or profess knowledge superior to a doctor concerning
types of medicine. I have gamed for over eight
years; I think I would know by now if I were
praying to a demon or devil, sacrificing small
children, or going out of my mind. Are these
people so ignorant that they actually believe
that a book can take over somebody’s mind and
make him commit suicide?
If the schools that ban the use of role-playing
games on campus did any research whatsoever,
they would realize that they are making a big
mistake. They should be using the popularity of
the games to implement education. By forbidding them, they are making the games popular
due to notoriety and are creating the kind of
negative publicity that responsible gamers are
trying to avoid. Why can’t schools use roleplaying games to spark creativity, develop social
and reading skills, and teach problem-solving
skills? What’s that, a constructive way to use a
role-playing game? Nah, couldn’t be.
We, as gamers, have rights. We are being
unfairly discriminated against in a society that
insures life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Why should it make a difference if my
idea of happiness is rolling a natural 20 and not
rolling a crust for an apple pie?
I am no monster. I’m the mother of two wonderful children, I’m in love with my husband, I
have a professional career, and I am tired of the
accusations. I am tired of the innuendos. I am
tired of the dirty looks. Can’t they just worry
about the next moral dilemma and let us play in
S. Lynne Mann
Cincinnati OH
* 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.
©1992 by Lester Smith
From tiny to titanic (or is that Titania?)
PIXIE* game
In this, my second review of small-press
publications, you’ll find a rather disparate
pair of games. The PIXIE* game is a very
small, modestly produced product typical
of hobbyists who had an idea they wanted
to share with other gamers. The AMBER
other hand, is a very large, professionally
produced product created by a fellow
with considerable design credits under his
belt. Both share a distinction besides their
small-press status: Each is unusual in its
vision, as is revealed in the descriptions
that follow.
96 JUNE 1992
You’ll notice that this months column
also contains a second, guest review of the
AMBER game by Allen Varney. When the
review copies of this game were received,
there was a very Amber-like struggle
among the reviewers to determine who
would cover it. For reasons I do not understand (and would rather not speculate
upon), the others eventually consented to
allow me to do it. But Allen asked to write
a sidebar, and I thought a second opinion
might be helpful to readers, especially
given the game’s unusual nature and popular topic. Neither Allen nor I saw each
other’s reviews until after both were written. Our opinions were independently
formed and expressed.
20-page rule book
New World
Design: Geoff Tuffli
Price n/a
How many times have you wanted to
play a role-playing game but were too
tired to put the effort into your usual
game? What you wanted was something
that would be loads of fun but also easy on
your head. Or, how often have you found
yourself feeling too silly to take a normal
RPG seriously? These times are exactly
right for a game like the PIXIE game.
Concept: In the PIXIE game, you play
the part of an mischievous little (3½” -tall)
fairy creature intent on breaking into a
human home and making it your own. The
owners and any pets they may have are
just so many vermin to be chased out if
they get too difficult to live with. Unfortunately, that’s how the “vermin” perceive
you as well. For some mystical reason,
humans literally see pixies as mice, bats,
etc. To your advantage, that means that
they do not recognize the threat you pose
as an intelligent creature. However, it also
means that even if you try to talk to them,
they’re liable to smash you with a broom.
So why are you trying to invade their
homes? According to the game background, 25 years ago Oberon and Titania
(from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s
Dream) had a major falling out. In a tizzy,
Titania abolished the government of the
land of Faerry and banished half the royal
court. Sensing trouble, a major portion of
Faerry’s population lit out for other
parts-i.e., the mundane world. When
they got here, the fairies found all sorts of
wonderful buildings standing about waiting to be inhabited—if only the current
residents could be driven out. Your character is such a pixie: a mischievous, amoral
creature who considers cooperation and
compromise to be socially frowned upon.
Mechanics: Character creation in the
game is extremely simple. First, you roll
1d6 + 1 for each of five attributes:
Strength, Dexterity, Agility, Intelligence,
and Luck. If you like, you can switch one
pair of rolled numbers to emphasize an
attribute you’d prefer to be higher. (Interestingly enough, this mere 20-page book
has an errata sheet that states that the
character example is correct in this regard, rather than the written rule, which
says that you can reroll one attribute if
you like.) Next, roll 1d6 +4 for the number
of skill points you can spend. Dexterity
skills are Melee, Bow, Throw, and Craft
(making stuff); Agility skills are Climb,
Stealth, and Acrobatics; Intelligence skills
are Electronics and Mechanics; and there
is a Special Skill, Fireball, which is treated
as an Intelligence skill to create and a
Dexterity skill to throw. (I'm not about to
explain why pixies have Electronics or
Fireball skills, but they do help make playing the game fun.)
To attempt an action, 2d6 are rolled
against the sum of the appropriate skill
level and its related attribute (a roll of 2
always succeeds, and a 12 always fails).
For instance, to hit a cat with a pebble, a
pixie would need to roll less than or equal
to the sum of its Throw rating and Dexterity attribute. (Strangely, the book instructs
the referee, not the players, to always
make the rolls.) Next comes the recording
of possessions: Characters begin the game
with nothing but the clothes on their
backs. Finally, players are instructed to
load their characters down with a
plethora of background peculiarities and
quirks, even insanities. Now you’re ready
to play.
Combat—the “Hitting People” section—
forms a very important part of this game.
To quote the book: “Occasionally, one
reaches the point where nothing seems to
work in convincing another character,
creature, or thing to do what you want it
to do. When communications break down
to this degree, only one option is left—hit
it.” If it hits back, combat begins. Combat
rounds are roughly three seconds long,
and attacks occur in descending Agility
order. To hit, you test the appropriate skill.
Damage is equal to the weapon’s base, plus
the attacker’s Strength, minus the defender’s Strength (Fireball damage substitutes attacker’s Luck for attacker’s
Strength—the second piece of errata).
Each creature in the game, regardless of
size, can take five points (levels) of damage
before dying. Obviously, a pixie’s Strength
is nowhere near a human’s, which means
that a human hit by a pixie will often feel
nothing at all, while a pixie hit by a human
will usually be squashed flat. Most of the
pixies’ opponents will be house pets,
neighborhood birds, etc., rather than
humans, which makes for a slightly more
even fight. Attributes and damage ratings
for various creatures and their natural
weapons are provided in a pair of tables.
If things are really going against you,
you might try testing your Luck. If you
succeed, something really good happens; if
you fail (which is most likely, given that
the highest Luck rating is only 6), something really horrible and probably even
fatal happens.
Because pixies have to climb around a
lot in our oversized world, they tend to
fall quite a bit, so rules are included for
falling damage. Fortunately, they only
suffer one level of damage per full yard
fallen, or per full two feet over a hard
Experience points are given directly as
skill levels, with a typical award being only
one or two points.
The rules described thus far take up
roughly eight pages of the game. An example of character creation fills another
page, followed by roughly four pages of
sample dialogue between players and a
referee. Finally, there are two pages of
sample adventure text—an entertaining
lampoon of a modern American home—
with another two pages of floor plans.
Finally, there’s a photocopiable character
sheet (the third item of errata is the permission to copy this for personal use only).
Evaluation: Overall, the game is quite
an enjoyable read. Playing it is fun as well,
though somewhat flawed. The main complaints I have are that: 1) Beginning the
game with absolutely no equipment makes
it extremely difficult for characters to
survive; and 2) There are no sample skill
levels listed for the non-pixie creatures.
Rolling against the creatures’ attribute
levels makes them seem terribly inept, but
adding skill points makes them deadly.
Fireballs are fairly easy to lose control of,
and they are deadly to the caster when
that happens. Also, Luck is entirely too
difficult to save against. The end result of
all of this is that player characters tend to
die rapidly and frequently. Fortunately, it
is also incredibly easy to create a new PC,
but this is of little consolation to players
who have become attached to particular
PCs, especially if those PCs have earned
experience points.
Those complaints aside, however, the
game can be surprisingly enjoyable. There
is a real charm to playing such tiny characters in a modern world. My players, for
instance, spent their first session involved
in a life-and-death battle against a common
house cat, among the undercarriage and
suspension of a BMW automobile. It is
worth noting that despite the pixies’ noted
disdain for cooperation, they found themselves working together to defeat that
threat. Of course, they also spent quite a
bit of time laughing at each other when
one would fall from the axle and have to
scramble back up a tire, etc.
Admittedly, the PIXIE game is just too
simple to bear up as a long-term campaign.
On the other hand, it works well as an
occasional diversion or short campaign
(five or six adventures, perhaps). I’ll certainly play it again.
If you cannot find this game at your
local game store (which is entirely likely),
you can write to: New World, 1070 Sixth
Ave., Suite #300, Belmont CA 94002, U.S.A.
256-page rule book
Phage Press
Design: Erick Wujcik
Cover: Stephen Hickman
Illustrations: Michael Kucharski
Background: Since its inception 22
years ago, Roger Zelazny’s Amber novel
series has been extremely popular. Ten
books have been published in the series
thus far. The first five are sometimes
called the “Corwin Cycle” and the second
the “Merlin Cycle” (not Arthur’s Merlin,
but rather Corwin’s son), after their respective protagonists. Parts of those works
were also serialized in Galaxy magazine.
Also available is a work called Roger Zelazny’s Visual Guide to Castle Amber. And
now there is the AMBER DICELESS ROLEPLAYING game.
For those who are not familiar with the
series of books, let me take a moment to
describe the central premises. First, imagine that there is one primal world of
which all others are but shadows. Now,
populate this primal world with a family
of individuals who possess the power to
travel among those shadows to any place
they desire, to find anything they wish.
Give them incredible strength and stamina, and make them immortal (barring
violent death). Among the “Shadows,” then,
they are as gods. Now imagine that they
are perpetually squabbling over the central reality’s throne in the most Machiavellian manner. That, in a nutshell, is Amber.
Throw in the Courts of Chaos—a secret,
collective enemy nearly as powerful as the
Amberites; mix in multitudinous imaginative and mystical elements; write it all as a
mystery in a Dashiell Hammett-style, firstperson narrative that lapses on occasion
into archaic, formal English; and you’ve
got a hit novel series on your hands.
Now, design a game that lets people play
members of that larger-than-life family,
make the system diceless to emphasize
role-playing (and to pique people’s interest), and you’ve got the makings of a hit
role-playing game on your hands.
Presentation: Physically, the AMBER
game is impressive. Its 256 pages are perfect bound, but rather than the usual
binding for perfect-bound game products,
the AMBER game is “Smith sewn” in 32page signatures. If that sounds like Greek
to you, suffice it to say that the result is
that the book easily lies open to pretty
much any page you choose, making it very
easy to access. The spine also remains flat
regardless, which makes the book long
lived even through continual use. The
cover’s glossy coating stands up to wear.
Visually, the game is a mixed bag. The
cover painting is intriguing and evocative
(though I’ve heard repeated, albeit minor,
complaints from fans of the novels, concerning the “cyber” look of the most prominent inset). The title on the cover appears
a bit bland by comparison, as does the
back and spine. While such things won’t
turn a dedicated Amber fan away, they
make the game less likely to draw a neophyte’s eye. Inside is page after page of
double-column text, typeset in a less-thaninspired manner and broken rather infrequently by illustrations, all black and
white but typically quite good. The hierarchy of headings is confusing, especially
when compared with the table of contents; it’s often difficult to know what’s
subordinate to what else, based on heading size, etc. The result of all of this is a
more difficult read than it ought to be,
especially given the nature of the text.
This is to say that while the text itself is
engagingly written, it is of necessity long
(as I’ll explain in a moment), and the physical presentation makes it seem that much
Mechanics: One of the primary
attention-getters of this RPG is that it is
diceless. Many role-playing gamers cannot
help but scoff at such a notion, but this
game’s diceless nature is definitely more
that just a gimmick. Wujcik has developed
a remarkable system that both suits the
Amber novels well and encourages roleplaying in a manner second to none and
far better than most. In this system, players are each given 100 points with which
to buy a player character’s four primary
attributes (Strength, Warfare, Psyche, and
Endurance), but each player must also bid
against the other players for those attributes in an auction. Whoever bids highest
on an attribute gains the best PC among all
others in that attribute. For example, a
character whose player bid highest in
Strength will be the strongest of the PCs
98 JUNE 1992
and will always win a “straight-up” contest
of Strength among them. Second place will
always beat third place and below, and so
on. Interestingly, this bidding process
tends to set up rivalries among the players
very much like those of the Amberites in
the novels.
Of course, the first question that occurs
to the uninitiated is “Why even bother to
play if you know ahead of time who is
going to win in a contest?” There are
several answers.
First, the trick is to avoid a “stand-up”
contest in an attribute in which your
character is weak. An example from the
novels is given concerning Corwin facing
an obviously superior swordsman (in game
terms, having a higher Warfare attribute)
and tricking his opponent into stepping
into an unusual patch of plant life that
immobilized him by pinning his legs, thus
giving Corwin the advantage.
Second, a character’s “stance” can affect
the final outcome, especially between two
closely matched foes. In an example from
my own gaming, a dazed character
refused to give ground before a slightly
less-adept swordsman who was both
fresher and attacking very forcefully. As a
result, the first character took some slight
wounds. The attacking character won that
Third, even if someone is more highly
ranked than you are in a particular attribute, you always have the option of getting
other people to help you gang up on that
Fourth, if your character faces someone
other than another PC, there is no way of
knowing just how good or poor that person’s abilities are. An excellent example of
this is given from the novels. Corwin is
facing another swordsman, someone he
thinks is slightly better than him. But he
manages to make the other fellow begin to
doubt his own abilities, and the tide of the
battle turns. In fact, once PCs begin to
gain experience, there is no way of being
certain how good anyone’s abilities are,
including those of your own character
(more about this in a moment).
I should mention that the characters you
play are not the Amberites from the novels. Rather, your PCs are the next
generation-the sons and daughters of
Corwin, Gerard, et al. This means that you
can feel free to design whatever type of
character you’d like—within the limits of
the 100 points, of course. If, after the
auction, you have points left over (and
you’d be smart to save at least a few), they
can be spent on secondary abilities.
Highest on the list are Pattern Imprint
and Logrus Mastery, which those familiar
with the novels will recognize as the essential patterns of the multiverse and are
what make Amberites and Lords of Chaos
able to manipulate Shadow. Also available
are Trump Artistry (Trump are tarotlike
cards that allow Amberites to “call” one
another across the multiverse), Shape
Shifting (a necessary ability for surviving
the continual chaos of the Courts), Power
Words (sort of one-word spells, more flash
than substance), Sorcery (the ability to
weave stronger spells, at the cost of more
time), and Conjuration (which allows for
the summoning or creation of items and
creatures, and the imbuing of items with
powers). Pattern Imprint, Logrus Mastery,
Trump Artistry, and Shape Shifting all
have advanced versions into which characters can grow. Finally, you can spend
points on personal artifacts and creatures,
personal shadow worlds, and allies (some
types of allies serve also as “place holders”;
having them means your character is of
royal blood and can eventually try to walk
the Pattern or Logrus, or maybe both).
Don’t have enough points? You can gain
a few extra by committing yourself to a
special contribution to the campaign:
keeping a diary for your character, drawing Trumps for campaign use, keeping a
game log, or whatever else you can talk
your game master into approving. (These
options are collectively another good example of how the game enhances player
involvement in the campaign story.) Or,
you can simply spend the extra you need,
then log it as “Bad Stuff,” sort of a battery
of bad luck. On the other hand, if you
have any points left over, you can declare
them as “Good Stuff,” meaning that life
tends to smile on your character. It is also
possible to have “Zero Stuff” and neither
suffer bad nor enjoy particularly good
luck. This “Stuff” serves the GM as a
means of deciding an outcome that would
seem random, or as a tie breaker when all
else seems even. For example, a character
who asks “Is the door locked?” might
receive different answers, depending upon
his Stuff (and assuming that the GM has
not previously determined the state of that
Character growth through experience is
unusual, too, in this game. When a story
has been completed (not merely one session, but the conclusion of a major plot),
the GM assigns a number of experience
points and divides them evenly among the
group. But the players are not told how
many experience points they have gained.
Rather, they each will have previously
provided the GM with a list of what abilities they want to improve, in what order,
and how much Bad Stuff they would be
willing to take to receive them. The GM
then updates their character sheets appropriately, again without telling the players
what their characters have gained. Consequently, the only way of finding out how
your character has grown is by continually testing his limits. Interestingly
enough, that’s the only way of finding out
just what the powers you already possess
are capable of doing. Again, this duplicates
the feeling of the novels nicely (and simulates real life, I’d argue).
Evaluation: By now, it should be obvious to you that the AMBER game concentrates on playing a role and telling a story,
while making game mechanics as unobtru-
sive as possible. It isn’t a game for “rules
lawyers”; event resolution is set firmly in
the GM’s hands. Nor will it suit casual
players; the back copy emphasizes that it
is a “mature, demanding, and timeconsuming system.” The game requires a
lot of its participants. It takes a long time
just to read: The back copy advertises over
a hundred pages of tips on role-playing
style and technique, and even the rules
aren’t so much defined as illustrated with
example after example. As a GM, then, you
don’t learn the rules; you absorb them and
make them your own. (Consequently,
when AMBER game GMs get together, they
tend to debate their respective visions and
even those of Wujcik and Zelazny.) Even
the stats for the Elder Amberites, the
various characters from the novels, are
given in multiple different formats, so that
GMs can choose those they prefer for
their campaign.
The result is an intensive role-playing
experience. Without numbers in front of
them, players have nothing to do but play
the parts of their characters. Without
rules to cite and dice to roll, they must be
able to trust the GM’s judgment. And the
GM has to react specifically to the PCs in
the guise of the world he has created. It
becomes entirely obvious that the GM can
do nothing until the players begin to interact with that world.
The AMBER game is absorbing. The very
first time I ran it was magical, despite the
fact that I was using the “Throne War”
scenario (the first of three included in the
book), a rather simplistic set-up that allows
players to try out the system for the first
time. Surprisingly, while I typically think
of a group of six or more gamers to be fit
only for a dungeon crawl, and three to be
the optimum number for real role-playing,
the AMBER game seems to cry out for
large groups—to enrich the stew of story
input, I suppose. Also, the game has been
sufficiently engaging to maintain player
interest even though I’m able to run it only
once a month at present. That I find surprising for any role-playing game.
Of course, there is another consequence
of that “absorbingness.” GMs have to spend
quite a bit of time and creative effort
coming up with wide-reaching plots for
their players to work through. Canned,
linear adventures just won’t serve. Secondly, to really give the players a fair
shake, the GM has to be thoroughly familiar with all the statistics for each and
every PC. Besides absorbing the rule book,
they’ll need to be fairly expert with the
Amber novels. I’ve found myself rereading
and studying them all carefully before
feeling really comfortable in running a
campaign. Wujcik himself purports to have
read them over 30 times in the six years
he spent working on the game.
As for criticisms of the AMBER game, I
have very few. I’ve already mentioned my
complaints concerning the typography.
Some GMs have complained that the sorcery rules seem sort of thin and don’t
reproduce very well what Merlin is capable of in the novels, but I don’t think the
answer is more specific rules. Rather, a
more in-depth treatment of spell examples
from the novels would be nice, following
the pattern of the rest of the book. Other
GMs have complained that, despite the
PCs’ superhuman abilities, these characters are small potatoes compared to the
Elder Amberites and can’t hope to stand
up to them. But the second and third
sample adventures in the book demonstrate ways to avoid that problem. In the
second adventure, while the PCs are on
hand to battle the menace, the Elder Amberites are not. (I should mention, however, that the “shrinking universe” idea in
this scenario doesn’t really thrill me-it
strikes me as a bit silly, though others
might find it less so.) In the third adventure, the PCs are used somewhat as pawns
by some of the Elder Amberites, but it is in
a way very much in keeping with the
novels, and the PCs are still participants
rather mere spectators. (I am less than
thrilled at the idea that in it Caine kills a
double of himself once again, and certain
persons who I thought dead are still alive,
but it’s only a suggested adventure, not the
one and only “official” line.) These are
very minor complaints.
As impressed as I am with the game, do I
think it is the “end-all” of role-playing
games, or that diceless systems are the
wave of the future? I’ll give a firm “No” on
both counts. First, the AMBER game is
pretty much Amber-specific. While the
Amber novel series theoretically allows its
characters to move through Shadow from
high-tech SF worlds to magical worlds of
legend, all such worlds still possess Amber’s flavor. In fact, Zelazny’s novels never
really include interstellar travel within
Shadow, and I doubt that many Amber
gaming groups will, either. Second, as fun
as the AMBER game can be, there are
certainly times when I’m not up to such
intense role-playing and would rather take
part in a dungeon crawl. Finally, there is a
thrill in making an incredibly good or bad
roll of the dice, so I sincerely doubt that
gamers everywhere are likely to pitch out
their dice collections and-their most treasured tables of random results.
However, I certainly do think that the
destined for great popularity and a niche
among the most respected of role-playing
game designs.
The AMBER game is available from:
Phage Press, P.O. Box 519, Detroit MI
48231-0519, U.S.A.
Random thoughts on
a nonrandom game
©1992 by Allen Varney
My friend, John Brunkhart, tells about a
1989 game session at Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE). John, who had recently joined
Customer Service at ICE, had played HERO
SYSTEM* games for years but had never
tried ICE’s SPACE MASTER* science-fiction
RPG. An ICE hanger-on who ran a campaign invited John to sit in. He spent two
hours generating a character and joined
the veteran players (mostly fellow ICE
employees) as a new adventure began.
For starters, the characters embarked
on a space journey to the world where
they would receive their mission. En
route, their ship entered a dangerous
asteroid belt. John rolled his character’s
Piloting skill and achieved a critical success. Like Han Solo, he sent the ship barreling flawlessly through the field. Except
that . . .
As I understand it, in the SPACE MASTER game there is an unmodified percentage chance that a ship in an asteroid field
will hit something. The GM rolled this
chance, right out where everyone could
see the dice: collision! Then he rolled the
size of the surprise asteroid: about as big
as the Moon, the way John tells it. Then he
rolled for location: the drives. Then he
rolled damage: maximum. Before the
scenario had properly begun, the ship
exploded, killing all aboard.
The GM apologized but didn’t retract the
results. He wanted to keep the players’
respect by respecting the dice. It worked,
mostly. These guys played ICE games,
after all, and they obeyed dice slavishly.
“Yeah,” they told each other, “that’s probably what would really happen—asteroid
fields are dangerous.” But John, who had
expected to take part in an adventure
story, was baffled and apoplectic by turns.
Narration or (putative) simulation? Dieroll fudging or relentless justice? Here in a
nutshell—or better, in a dice bag—we have
one of the great religious schisms of our
hobby, ranking with “realism vs. playability.” I strongly favor story and role-playing
values. If you want dice to rule your destiny, you could play the SPACE MASTER
game, but why not go to Las Vegas and
shoot craps instead? You’ll probably have a
better story to tell afterward.
Recalling John’s horror story and many
like it, I salute the courage and integrity of
Erick Wujcik’s AMBER game. I have some
(pardon the term) random musings:
The “attribute auction” in character
generation is brilliant and elegant. This
fun system produces several nice effects
apparent only after close study. At first it
seems that canny (and cooperative) players
could fix attribute prices at artificially low
levels, but this oligopoly backfires as soon
as the PCs receive their first advancement
points, when everyone can easily buy up
to every top rank!
The auction system could easily work with
other point-based RPGs. It does need a large
player group to work best. In my experience, the specified 100 points cannot create
a well-rounded Amberite. I offer more
points and free Pattern Imprint.
Another AMBER game breakthrough,
the idea of gaining extra points to improve
your character through extra-campaign
activity (character diaries, artwork, campaign logs, etc.), depends on the honor of
the players—but then, so does much else
in this game. (I wonder how long before
some penurious GM starts offering extra
points to players in a cash auction.)
Advancement comes slowly, perhaps too
slowly. Players have little idea how their
own characters improve, let alone other
players’ characters. Still, this effect mimics
Zelazny’s novels. There, our hero Corwin
doesn’t know whether (for instance) he
can defeat his brother Eric in fencing until
they actually go at it. This game system
cultivates suspicion, caution, and even
paranoia-all survival traits in Amber.
Likewise, I believe the game’s nonrandom approach suits Amber well. Others
disagree, yet in the novels, Corwin seldom
says, “If it hadn’t been for [the wind/the
sun in my opponent’s eyes/the phase of the
moon], I’d never have scraped by. The
situation could have gone either way.” No,
when Corwin achieves something, he
overcomes random circumstances. Story
logic, not some lucky break, usually motivates the occasional last-minute rescue. As
in the novels, so it works in the game, and
An AMBER game should be nonrandom,
but that doesn’t mean the Amber milieu
works well for role-playing. The setting
selects for loners, because an individual
character: 1) is vastly capable, and; 2) has
reason to mistrust other PCs. Players
routinely go off in their own directions.
They form factions and retreat from the
game room to plot. The characters have
Trumps that can negate traps or blow
open mysteries. They can mess with time
or find anything they want for free in
infinite parallel universes.
Experienced GMs can accommodate all
this, and the AMBER game clearly targets
the most experienced GMs (and players!).
But it’s tough work. Proceed with caution.
On the same note, I’d be reluctant to run
this game for players who aren’t familiar
with the first five Amber novels, Nine
Princes in Amber through The Courts of
Chaos. (Regrettably, the second Amber
sequence is only a Shadow of the first’s
“Diceless” does not necessarily imply
“ruleless.” But the AMBER game dispenses
with most rules as righteously as it throws
out dice. At every point, Wujcik asserts the
primacy of story values over systems.
Notably, the Combat chapter describes
tactics and their likely success, different
wound levels, and so on, all in plain words
with few rules and no numbers. It’s rather
curious reading.
To be honest, this bold approach unsettles me. Politically, I must applaud the
dominance of story values over rules. The
text offers copious advice, including
scripts that advise GMs how to stage a
fight at varying levels of detail. But I betray my upbringing. I keep looking for a
way to sequence combat, hit points, and
all those training wheels I grew up with.
Yet the intensity of the AMBER game
indicates Wujcik is on to something. When
success in every action depends on the
role and not the roll, players develop a
sense of both control and urgency, along
with creativity that borders on mania.
I once heard a second-hand remark
attributed to E. Gary Gygax, designer of
the AD&D® game, that went, “The secret
we should never let the game masters
know is that they don’t need any rules.”
Now the AMBER game has exposed the
truth. Soon, I hope, we can safely enter an
asteroid field.
l 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.
100 JUNE 1992
102 JUNE 1992
By Joseph T. Pillsbury
By Barbara Manui & Chris Adams
104 JUNE 1992
108 JUNE 1992
JUNE 1992
©1992 by Robert Bigelow
Photos by Mike Bethke
A gallery of draconic beauty
Welcome to DRAGON® Magazine’s 16th
anniversary issue and our special gallery
of dragon miniatures. With careful painting, these will look equally good standing
in dioramas or spreading panic among
your player characters. Many of these
figures don’t fit our normal image of dragons, however.
I want to extend credit and a hearty
thanks to the crew who assisted me in this
full-color gallery. Painters include Eric
Peterson, with credit for the gold dragon
from Thunderbolt Mountain and the ice
dragon from Ral Partha; Chris Osbourne,
for the cold drake, ice, and fire dragons,
all from RAFM; Sam White, for the black
dragon from Ral Partha and the huge
black dragon from Grenadier; and Mike
Bethke, for the “bellicose blue” dragon
from Thunderbolt Mountain and the
wyvern from Ral Partha. These fine folks
also helped with the assembly of these
I also want to thank all the people who
112 JUNE 1992
have called me at the store. It was good to
hear from you, and on most occasions
everyone got the help they needed. I don’t
always have the answers at my fingertips,
and I may not be able to find them without time-consuming digging and research.
My position as a retailer and a reviewer
allows me access to a number of sources
not available to regular hobbyists, but
even these sources may not be enough. As
more molding technology reaches the
hobby level, more people are getting into
figure manufacturing and sales. Frequently, these companies have only local distribution and leave no paper trails outside of
Miniatures’ product ratings
Below average
Above average
their own geographic areas. If you see a
figure and want me to help track it down,
I need as much information about the
figure as possible. I won’t guarantee results. This also applies to everyone who
makes, sells, or imports figures. If I don’t
have your sales literature and some samples, there is no way I can send you business or review your products.
I also want to remind everyone that my
address appears in all my review columns.
Some companies may have moved by the
time the article reviewing their products
appears in this column, and I don’t mind
forwarding some messages to those companies. I am not an answering service,
however, nor am I responsible for the time
it takes the companies to respond. I pass
along all questions and constructive comments, along with return addresses, to the
company concerned within 48 hours.
If you do call with a question, please
make it clear and concise and have it
ready to ask. Write the question down
beforehand, and keep a recorder or paper
and pen handy for the answer. Remember,
you pay for the call. Be aware also that I
have a business to run, and there might be
interruptions while I wait on customers,
who obviously have first priority. This
may cause me to lose my train of thought,
so keep track of what I’m saying. If you
want to call just to talk, call after 8 P.M.
CST, as it is cheaper and there are usually
fewer customers.
My last comments are directed only to
the people who put on conventions. When
you plan your conventions, remember to
give your prospective “special guests”
more than 90 days notice and let them
know what will be expected of them.
While I and all other prospective guests
feel honored by an invitation, we need
time to prepare, especially if we are to
give lectures or run demo games. Calling
two weeks before a convention frequently
forces a guest to decline and sometimes
causes bad feelings that everyone wants to
avoid. Plan ahead.
These are good guidelines to follow
when calling anyone in the hobby industry. We often forget that these people have
other obligations and businesses to run.
Now, let’s get on with our bevy of draconic beauties.
20 Parkhill Road E
Cambridge, Ontario
RAFM 3501 Small Cold Drake **** ½
The cold drake is not a recognized
AD&D® 2nd Edition game dragon. It
comes as a three-piece lead kit scaled for
use with 25-mm figures (it’s a large dragon
with 15-mm figures). The figure is on a
roughly circular base, 20 mm across and
about 4 mm thick. The top of the base is
cut to represent a stony surface but is
enough to cover with hobby grass. The
figure is neatly set on the base and does
not wobble or fall easily.
The drake is over 90 mm from tail to
nose, but it’s hunched in so it appears
much smaller. The posture of the body
indicates a defensive position, with fourclawed front feet curved almost into fists
and the back feet dug in. The body is
thickest at the rear legs, measuring 10 mm
high by 5 mm thick, and tapers in the rear
to a short tail. The skin has a pebbly,
scaled texture that extends to all top surfaces except the head. The chest and underside are covered by a line of
overlapping plates; a line of triangular
spines extends down the back to the tail,
and two horns extend upward from the
head. The head has very good detail, with
easily discernable eyes and well-done
nostrils and lower fangs. The head is
covered by a bony carapace.
The wings look stubby in comparison to
the body. They are folded and measure
only 30 mm × 10 mm, being roughly textured with clearly visible spines and a
short hook on the front half point. The
wings fit their holes well, with only a small
spot of filler needed to complete the fit.
The only failing for the wings is that they
appear to be overly thick, but this is probably due to the caster’s artistic license and
an attempt to improve the figure’s longevity and sturdiness.
The only other faults of this miniature
were a slightly offset nose and a mold line;
both of these, however, can add character
to the face. This figure is recommended at
$6 each.
RAFM 3720 Young Fire Dragon
This miniature is called a fire dragon,
but it would be equally at home as a
young red dragon. The miniature in this
blister pack consists of four separate lead
parts. The body is seated on a T-shaped
base sculpted to resemble a mound of
large rocks, the rear of which helps form
the joint for the tail. With the tail attached,
the dragon is just over 190 mm from tail
to nose. The length is hidden by the dragon’s posture, which closely resembles a
dog begging for a morsel. The front legs
are drawn up to the chest with claws
pointing down. The head is turned to the
left, its open mouth exhibiting many sharp
teeth. The carapace-covered head, with
sunken eyes and slitted nostrils, radiates
evil. Two long horns are present, and a
ridge of fanned spines is at the top of the
head, wing joints, along the tail, and at the
end of the tail. Belly plates are clearly
defined. The body is covered by pebbly
scales. This dragon has a slight pot belly;
this and the raised tail detract slightly
from the model.
The wings are identical, so you don’t
need to worry about mixing them up.
Each wing is slightly folded and adds
about 9 cm to the dragon’s length. There is
little texture to the wings, and only the
supporting bones protrude from the flat
surface. Each wing also has a medium hole
in its upper part. This can be filled with
putty or left as is.
This dragon is not as neat or easy to
assemble as the cold drake. Both wing
joints required cleaning, both in sockets
and wing stubs. Even with cleaning, the
wings did not fit correctly and we needed
to fill in around the joints. We also had
problems with the tail assembly. The joint
on our tail was poorly defined and had
flash, as did the body joint. After cleaning
both and putting the two together, the tail
itself was about 15% smaller than the
body. This required the use of putty, with
a subsequent loss of detail in that area.
This model is also slightly wobbly on surfaces that are not perfectly flat.
Even with the work involved, this miniature is recommended. You can’t always
run into a fully grown dragon, and there
is a decided lack of figures between the
fledglings and the large dragons on the
market. For a young red dragon, this
figure will be hard to beat. This figure lists
at $6 each.
RAFM 3721 Young Ice Dragon
This miniature cannot be used as easily
for a young dragon as the others, due to
its unusual features and configuration.
The miniature is a four-piece kit and is
blister-packed, as are the rest of RAFM’s
figures reviewed here. The body is
perched as if taking off. The tail lies coiled
and, with the legs, provides the support
for the casting. The body is done in
diamond-shaped, overlapping scales that
cover all but the underside of the dragon
and its smooth lower leg. Body parts are
ringed with a mane of fine hair that
stretches from the head to the upper legs
and the end of the tail. A high, thick dorsal
ridge topped with pointed spines rises
from the back and ends at the tail. The left
front leg hangs straight down, while the
right is folded and looks almost like the
dragon is preparing to throw a spell.
The wings are identical, with smooth
surfaces and missing panels on the leading
edges. The wings are slightly pitted on our
miniature, and the surface is rough. These
114 JUNE 1992
problems could be remedied by the use of
filler, but remember not to obscure the
bones supporting the wing. You will also
have to use some filler on the wing joints,
as some gaps are evident after assembly.
The final part of the miniature is the
head-and-neck assembly. Square plates
protect the dragon’s breast, neck, and rear
side. The joint fits well after cleaning, and
the mane hides the gap. The head has
horns that face backward and visible ears
that pierce the bony carapace. The mouth
is open to reveal well-done teeth. The
expression on this beast is pure evil.
This figure needs some work. In addition to the things mentioned above, you’ll
need to add a larger base to the figure so
it does not wobble. This figure is still
recommended at $6 each.
Grenadier Models Inc.
P.O. Box 305
Springfield PA 19064
Grenadier Models
19 Babbage Road
Deeside, Clwyd, Wales
Gren 2534 Huge Black
This is a truly huge black dragon, definitely scaled for use with 25-mm miniatures. The figure comes in a box that
seems to weigh a ton and contains 13
large, lead pieces. This kit took time and
patience to assemble.
The main torso of the dragon consisted
of three pieces. There was no flash on
them, and they went together easily. We
recommend you rubber-band or tape the
pieces while you wait for the glue to dry,
or you can just hold them together. After
the body is done, the four legs should be
assembled next. Some light flash is in the
crooks of the legs, but this is easily fixed.
The legs must be done at the same time to
ensure that they mesh with the large
rocky base. Wait until this much of the
model dries securely before going any
The head joins to the neck and shows
some signs of light flash on the neck and
under the horns. Next comes the tail, then
the wings, which are heavily textured with
a leathery feel. The tail needs light clean
ing, and the wing nubs may need to be
trimmed slightly. The fit is very good,
When finally finished, this dragon is
truly impressive. From tail to nose, this
miniature measures just under 280 mm
with a wingspan of just over 270 mm. The
body stands 63 mm from its rocky base to
the top of its back. The underside is protected by square breastplates, and its back
is protected by overlapping plates. Its skin
has a roughly textured, pebbly surface
with appropriate skin sags and muscles.
Huge three-toed feet grip the base, while a
large pair of horns point skyward. This
figure dwarfs even the other dragons.
If this dragon has a weak spot, it is the
head. Detail is good, including very good
eyes, nostrils, and exposed teeth, but it
just isn’t ferocious. The expression is almost benevolent and definitely doesn’t
belong on an evil dragon. Some of the
crew here have started calling the figure
Odie (after the dog in the Garfield comics).
It’s recommended highly even at $29.95.
Thunderbolt Mountain
656 East McMillan
Cincinnati OH 45206-1991
Thunderbolt Mountain
70 Harcourt Street
Newark, Nottingham
1015 Gargantuan Gold
Thunderbolt has been releasing its new
dragons on a regular basis, with impressive results. The gold dragon here is one
such miniature kit, consisting of 12 parts
that collectively create a miniature with a
coiled length of over 120 mm and a wing
span of just over 270 mm. Being a lead kit,
were clear, but you should note that many
of the parts will go in at slightly different
angles than shown, so you have to keep
track of how the pieces are lined up. The
only sore spots were the wing joints,
which didn’t fit quite right and needed
support throughout the drying stage.
Assembled, this model can be a strong
force for the good guys in a game. It’s
highly recommended at $27.95 each.
1019 Bellicose Blue Dragon
This is a 25-mm scale kit containing 11
separate parts. The dragon measures just
about 230 mm from tongue to stingerlike
tail. The wings are slightly folded back,
but straightened out they would each
measure about 180 mm across. The dragon is set low to the ground, being only
about 30 mm at the highest point of its
body, not including tail or wings.
The dragon has an elongated triangular
head similar to the gold dragon figure.
The head is covered with deep-scored
scales, with slitted eyes and horns on the
sides. A tongue extends from a tooth-filled
mouth. The dragon’s expression appears
almost depressed. Long and thin the body
ends in a long tail with a hooked spike.
The large square body scales appear to be
spiked, but the tail has flat scales. The
wavy, leathery wings have a well-defined
bone structure visible more from the
bottom than the top. The wings are rip
pled slightly as if the membrane were
caught by the wind.
The bent legs are covered with smooth
scales. When you attach the legs to the
body, you must constantly check to make
sure the model stands flat. If the model is
assembled correctly, the jaw rests very
close to the ground, though not actually
touching it. I built mine differently, so it
could be either depressed or stalking
someone, especially with the evil look in
its eyes.
The model goes together well, with gaps
visible only at the feet. One problem joint
is that between the body and the tail,
where the body is slightly larger than the
tail and requires some work with putty
and a knife to look right. There was no
flash on the miniature, and mold lines are
well hidden. This dragon is highly recommended at $29.95.
The head is triangular, with an almost
flat face covered with overlapping scales.
The eyes are set to the side of highbridged sockets. A long tongue snakes out
from a mouth lined with sharp teeth,
except in the front. The neck is arched,
and the scales get larger lower on the
body. The chest and front legs are heavily
muscled. In fact, this dragon appears to be
a graduate of a body-building course; the
corded muscles do not look overdone and
bring forth visions of the upgraded AD&D
2nd Edition game dragons.
Two of the feet are separate castings.,
The right front leg is up as if striking,
116 JUNE 1992
support. Place this foot carefully, or the
dragon will not stand firmly. The back legs
are cocked as if the dragon is poised to
run forward, and the tail is coiled as if to
strike. All of the areas except a small spot
in the lower rear have excellent scale
detail, and only in that one place does the
detail fade. Large, powerful wings extend
from the shoulders; with their slightly
concave shape, they give the illusion that
the dragon could fly.
The pieces of this kit fit together very
well with only minimal gaps that can be
filled with the same superglue used to
assemble the miniature. The directions
Ral Partha Enterprises
5938 Carthage Court
Cincinnati OH 45212
Ral Partha Enterprises
c/o Minifigs
1/5 Graham Rd, Southampton
RP 11-447 Wyvern
This is a four-piece kit that depicts a
wyvern leaping into the air. It is scaled for
25 mm and is a soft lead casting. The
coiled body would measure roughly 158
mm long if the coils were straightened
out. The base for this creature is an oval,
10 mm × 28 mm, with a surface texture
made to resemble rocks. The base on our
miniature had a slight warp that made the
miniature unsteady. Even after straightening the base (to which the main body is
attached), the figure is still top heavy and
prone to falling over.
The head is a separate casting and includes the upper jaw, skull, ears, a malevolent pair of eyes, and shallow nostrils. This
piece joins to a square block on the main
body piece, set on the end of the neck
where you find the lower part of the jaw.
The assembly looks too square and blocky
when seen closely from the side, but it fits
well. A ridge of sharp spines runs down
the spine, from behind the head to halfway down the tail. The body has wrinkled
skin with a pebblelike finish; overlapping
scales are on the stomach, throat, and
“bottom” of the tail. The wings fit well into
the body, but there is a rather large gap
around the joint for both wings that requires some filling. The wings are textured
and have good bone detail, including spurs
on the wing tips and ends.
The figure is well done except for the
small faults noted. It is recommend at
$7.50 each.
RP 10-460 Black Dragon of Fire and
Ral Partha has launched a new line of
dragons drawn from the imaginations of
its sculptors. This series is called Sculptors’
Row, and the black dragon is the first in
the series.
This lead miniature comes in a 12-piece
kit, scaled to 25 mm. The body measures
just over 300 mm from nose to tail spike
and has a wingspan of just over 170 mm
tip to tip, even with the wings partially
retracted. The stocky, smooth body sets
just over 30 mm above the ground, while
the neck and tail are skinny and elongated.
The long, thin head has small nostrils, eyes
set far back in the head, and an upper jaw
that includes two large tusks that jut out
Several problems may be encountered
with this miniature. The tail and neck
joints are smooth notches that do not quite
line up and require cleaning. Neither joint
gives much structural strength, and both
have broken off with handling despite the
use of epoxy. We intend to soon perform a
procedure (that we highly recommend) in
which we pin and glue the pieces together,
using model railroad nails placed in holes
drilled with a pin vise. Much of the problem could have been avoided by adding
holes and pegs, or other such joints, to the
pieces. The legs fit well but still have gaps.
The only pieces that fit together well were
the wings, which have pegs and holes.
Even the legs must be bent slightly to
make the model stand level. You will also
have to file and clean mold lines and
marks on the wings and some joints. You
may have to bend the actual figure to get
it to stand straight.
The miniature looks a little like a gecko
lizard when done, but it is an interesting
piece. I cannot recommend it to anyone
who uses his miniatures frequently, unless
he is willing to strengthen the figure. If
the miniature is used for display only, this
will be an interesting addition to a collection as is. Its list price is $15.95 each.
RP 10-461 Fearless Frost
This is the second in the Sculptors’ Row
series. This 25-mm scale kit comes boxed
and consists of nine soft-lead pieces. The
long, slender body would be about 250
mm long if straightened out. The wing-
span is just over 160 mm tip to tip.
The figure has a long skinny head with
an elongated jaw. Joined, flexible bony
plates protect most of the body; the entire
set-up resembles the carapace of a lobster.
Two long horns rest on top of its head, and
spurs on the wing ends could be used to
defend itself. A tail coils back upon itself,
long enough to strike at enemies in front.
The legs are smooth and jointed in a manner reminding one more of a horse than a
dragon. The wings are relatively smooth
on the surface, but have a number of
holes in them. These holes could be filled
and smoothed over with putty to restore
the smooth surface.
We checked other kits to see whether
we got a set that was an exception to the
rule, but both this particular one and the
black dragon reviewed earlier were the
same as other kits of their kind. This is a
prime example of why we should have
some kind of an industry standard for kit
difficulty. If you are willing to work and
expect assembling the kit to be hard, you
would get a good deal with these kits. If
you expect a quick, easy kit, you’re in for a
shock. This kit retails for $16.95.
We had a number of problems with this
dragon. The head requires work to get it
to fit on the neck. None of the holes in the
base line up with the corresponding pegs
in the legs and tail; it looks like the base
may have shrunk slightly in casting. This
118 JUNE 1992
miniature also has more flash than I’ve
seen on a Ral Partha miniature for a long
time, and mold lines are extremely visible
and require massive cleaning. Again, the
wing fit is very good, but the holes detract
from the wings’ appearance.
I imagine I’ll hear shouts of outrage from
sculptors and companies alike, but there
seems to be a breakdown in communication between the sculptors’ ideas and the
casting necessities. All of the dragons
reviewed here had some problems, but
many of those problems could have been
fixed before the figures left the factory.
Quality control seems to be slipping slightly, and the figures (and customers) are
If you need to contact me, you can do so
at Friend’s Hobby, 1411 Washington St.,
Waukegan IL 60085; or call (708) 336-0790
MWThF 2-10 P.M CST or 10 A.M.- 5 P.M.
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