One of my prized possessions is the Dragon Magazine Archive collection. I ordered it as soon as it came out (I guess that was the year 2000 or so) and have enjoyed it ever since. I have been forced by my constant moving to sell my hard copies of Dragon Magazine, but having the first 250 issues electronically kept me in the game.
I have a lot of nostalgic love for those old issues: I got a subscription to Dragon as soon as I could afford it (around issue 140). This was after buying the random single issue when I made an infrequent run to the local hobby store. The first issue I ever owned was #126, I loved it for the cool cover and the articles were top notch.
Which brings me to my point. I have been re-reading those old issues on my little lap top while I was deployed. I thus have been inspired to share what I think were the best of the articles over this initial 250 issue run. Hopefully, by picking up on what I suggest, you can re-experience the heyday of the hobby and pick up on some of the classic tricks of the trade as well.
So I am starting up this thread that I hope will become a source of discussion and reference. I will limit my discussion to those first 250 issues and will put up a reply for each topic I come up with. Feedback is of course, welcome.
P.S. - I found a video on YouTube that shows the cover of each Dragon from 1976 to 2007. I linked to it here:
One thing that Mr Gygax was a big fan of, was lists. The first edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide is full of them. As far as magazine articles go, these list type articles usually yield several workable ideas, making them good practical articles for the aspiring DM no matter what your style of play was, a good list usually had something to interest you.
One of the best was a simple one: expanding the list of effects for a wand of wonder (Issue # 147). The original wand had about 20 possible effects, but this article essentially quadruples that (from that point on, whenever a PC used his wand of wonder, I rolled 1d4 to see which chart to use and then rolled the effect from there, making it more unpredictable - fun!). For another list of wonderful random effects, see 101 Surprises in a Bag of Beans in Issue # 171.
Another great list article was in Issue 163, "Magic Gone Haywire". This was lists of quirks for magical items such as scrolls, rings, etc. Just lists of oddities that a DM could roll for at random or just assign as a sort of side effect to his treasure lists. Great possibilities and fun potential there.
Then there is a list of potential adventures that can be gained from a thief's pick pocketing attempt in Issue # 164. Some of those are DM comedy gold!
Finally, there are several articles that are lists of adventuring hooks. Each has a vast amount of potential in just a few pages. There are "101 Little Mysteries" in Issue # 240, "Hometown Adventures" in Issue # 180, "50 Castle Hauntings" in Issue # 186, and "Inventing the Instant Adventure" in Issue # 175. These all stand the test of time, because they can be useful no matter what edition you use. Actually, some of the ideas can apply to other games entirely.
So that is my first thread on the best of Dragon's first 250 issues - the list category. I will let you all know my thoughts on other great articles in the future.
Also, I really enjoyed the new, or revamped PC/NPC classes and races. Some of my favorites were the Witch (twice!), Archer, Bard, Monk, Winged Folk, and Half-Ogre.
Never saw the witch so I can't give an opinion on it but the others were absolutely brilliant.
Put the half-ogre and monk to use damn near the same day I saw them. _________________ Quoted material has been reproduced in this post without express permission for the purposes of discussion, comment and review as permitted by Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.
I too, have enjoyed the "Ecology of ..." articles, and the best of them would take up a posting all its own. But some of the monster articles I enjoyed the most were not necessarily from the Ecology of series. This reply addresses those articles.
Specifically, undead really do not have ecologies, being unnatural creatures. So while there were some Ecology of undead, in the first 250 issues most undead articles were not of that series.
The best of them incorporated more than just statistics. Great examples of this are Tom Moldvay's series on different types of undead: Hearts of Darkness (#126), The Ungrateful Dead (#138), Out of the Shadows (#162), Beyond the Grave (#198), and Too Evil to Die (#210). These articles cover the folklore roots of the various types of undead, offers game stats for these variants, and even tells a few bone chilling stories to boot. All worth reading, no matter what edition you play.
Another good read for undead monster lore is Nigel Findley's "Mind of the Vampire" in Issue 162. This discusses the psychological motivations for the undead and gives DM's good tips on how to role play them.
While not technically undead, golem creation and ways to make golems more dangerous are discussed in issues 136 and 139. Speaking of creating, new skeleton and zombie variants are presented in "The Necromancer's Armory" in Issue 234. These articles all are great mines for ideas.
Finally, Vince Garcia did a nice article in Issue 126 summarizing all the types of undead in AD&D up to that point and writing out little capsule synopses of how to use them in your campaigns. This was a great article that really help to illustrate the differences between various monsters and how to DM them to their maximum potential. Of note, Mr Garcia did a similar approach to fairy creatures in Issue 155 that is also top notch.
So do yourself a favor and bone up on these articles from the archives.
In my opinion, good articles are ones that can legitimately teach you something. "The History of the Shield" in Issue #57 was a great article for that. While on the subject of armor, Issue #148 had a great article on customizing your arms and armor ("Always Wear Your Best Suit") that is worth a read, no matter what edition you use.
Improvising weapons is a great article for providing guidelines for when your PCs start to make things up ("Sticks, Stones, and Bones", Issue #97). Tables on how to judge how much damage giant sized weapons can do is in Issue #109. This article provides some more variety to what your giants can do.
Polearms have always had an overabundance of space in the rulebooks dedicated to them, as well as several different varieties in the weapons tables. This probably reflects the games' origins as a tabletop war simulation. In that context, having many types of polearms may make a difference when facing different types of units in a wargaming scenario. "In Defense of Polearms" in Issue #178 addresses some of the concerns that roleplayers have in using these weapons, and gives some advice on how to make them more useful in the D&D context.
Finally, articles describing new types of weapons were always fun. Two stand out for me: knives are given more variety in Issue #140 (my mages always used the cinquedea after reading that article), and crossbows are explored in great depth in Issue #182 (not only are new types of crossbows given, but also some good historical flavor as well).
I confess that I would often just skip the fiction part of my Dragon Magazines and just focus on the gaming articles. The game content was what I got the subscription for, the stories were just an added bonus. Sometimes I would never get back to reading the faction stories, it was not until I was deployed that I went systemically back through my archive and found that there were many stories that were very good.
Some big name authors graced the pages of Dragon, especially in the early issues. Fritz Leiber had one in issue 11, L. Sprague de Camp had a two parter in issues 15 and 16, Gardner Fox had nine stories scattered throughout the first few issues. Of course Gary Gygax had a Greyhawk story in issue 100. Margaret Weiss, Tracy Hickman, Jean Rabe, Roger Moore, Ed Greenwood, and James Ward all contributed to the Dragon body of fiction.
Some surprising authors had Dragon submissions. Harry Turtledove (of the alternate history genre) had a fantasy story in issue 113. Laurell K. Hamilton (of the Anita Blake series) had a good one in issue 165.
Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.
For a rousing adventure story, "The First Notch" in issue 152 is a great read. "Eyes of Redemption" (Issue 134) and "Ivory in the Blood" (158) are great fantasy stories about facing dragons that are not typical. "And a Ship to Sail By" (239) is a nice romantic tale, while "Old Ways are Best" (129) is very funny. "Thief on a String" (160), and "How Nemra Added a Line to the Book of Thieves" (184) present challenging problem solving, as does "A Prayer for the Dead" in 162. Finally, who can read "The Prince's Birthday" in issue 122 and not think of the court in Rauxes?
Anyway, now that the magazine does not feature fictional works, I find that I miss them. The DragonDex has a good summary of the entire body of work, as well as a pretty comprehensive index of Dragon as a whole. Link here:
Adventures in Dragon only came out sporadically in the early issues, and ended altogether in issue number 111 (with a few exceptions). So I always regarded having a mini-module in the magazine as an added bonus. It is really hard to have a module in the magazine format, as the modules would tend to take up a lot of space that could otherwise be used for gaming articles, ads, etc. So it is not really surprising that Dragon did not have a lot of them.
Having said that, the best module I remember from the first 250 issues of Dragon was the module included in issue 131, "The Chasm Bridge". This was a special insert to the issue that was to publicize Dungeon magazine. Dungeon was really the better format to have modules - that is have the whole magazine dedicated to presenting adventures rather than articles. Anyway, I inserted in this adventure into the D1-3 series when my PCs got lost and went off into a wrong direction in the underworld. There was some decent role playing opportunities in it with possibly befriending the master of this underworld toll bridge (my PCs did that, and ended up with an interesting contact in the underworld for adventures to come).
There was another Dungeon insert in issue 155, "The Crypt of Istaris" that was also very nice. There was a couple of neat trap ideas in this dungeon crawler that I exported to other scenarios.
Some other modules that are worth relooking: "The Dancing Hut" in Issue 83 and "The City Beyond the Gate" in issue 100. The latter one especially for those of you who want to add in the search for the Mace of St Cuthbert to your PC's quests.
Dragon Magazine had a tradition that on its anniversary month (June) the issue would be about, appropriately enough, dragons. This themed issue through the years had many an article about making dragons more powerful, adding new dragon types (such as yellow, brown, obsidian, and other colors), and new dragon spellcasting options.
Most of these types of articles are now pretty dated. They only have applicability to those of us who still use the 1st or 2nd editions. In keeping with the theme of this thread, I am highlighting those old articles that are light on the crunch (rules) and better with the fluff (background) so as to still have relevance for those of us who have moved on to later editions.
Having said that, issue # 134 and 146 had some ecology of the dragon articles that have a mix of the fluff and crunch that are worth a review. In issue # 248 there is an article on making dragons more unpredictable by adding different minor traits to already existing dragon types.
Dragons are treated as long term adversaries in an article in issue # 206, and as intriguers in issue # 218. Dragons of legend are discussed in issue # 230 and that provides good material for basing your own adventures.
Ed Greenwood's series on the "Wyrms of the North" have descriptors of almost every dragon type out there, with good write ups and adventure hooks in them. With a little tweaking, they can be adaptable to our Greyhawk setting. These articles start in issue # 230 and runs past issue 250.
A dragon personality from the Word of Greyhawk was the description of the undead dragon Dragotha in issue 134. This version is a little different than the one that was presented in the Dungeon Magazine adventure path, but is still a formidable foe in his own right.
Finally, Roger Moore discusses one of the most powerful set of artifacts in D&D and gives it a wonderful Greyhawk twist in "The Orbs of Dragonkind" in Issue 230. This article is a must read for Greyhawk fans and for fans of sending your characters off on artifact hunting expeditions.
So in honor of the month of June, here's the best of Dragon's dragons.
There were typically three themed issues per year in Dragon's heyday. I described the best of the June issues (Dragon themed) and October issues (Undead themed) earlier. The controversial one was the April issue, that was a humor themed issue.
It was controversial because at the time some subscribers thought the April Fool's issue was a waste of their time and money. Devoting a whole issue to buffoonery always got some letter writers to complain that they wanted gaming articles; not nonsense. Frankly, they had a point. Often, the humor was just some joke monsters/spells/magic items, some song parodies, and lame puns.
However, humor certainly has its place in the D&D game. And often even the most serious of campaigns has to release some energy through jokes. Here are a few articles that can still raise a chuckle.
Role playing a character that is as smart as a box of hammers can be a kick. "The Basic Barbarian" in issue # 180 is an example of how to be so obnoxious when you get a poor attribute character that your DM will likely let you add a few point to your stats next time. Role playing demi humans in issue # 168 is another way to have fun at your comrade's expense. The article on different player types in issue # 19 is still true today, as is the quasi alignments discussion in issue # 124.
Issues 36 and 48 had a "1/2" insert in them that had some fun little bits, like what to do when you meet Demogorgon and the Russian copyright on the revolutionary one sided dice.
As an old DM though, my favorites were "The Last Word" in issue # 129 and some of the Cheating made easy articles in issue # 144. The spells from the Outrages from the Mages in 144 and 156 (along with the parody of the Ed Greenwood writing style) also made for some light fun.
For many readers, these articles and issues were a matter of taste, but really are part of the history of the magazine and the game. So enjoy them when you are feeling whimsical.
Kinda following up from the last post about humor in the magazine - Dragon had some good comics running in it in the early years. Dragonmirth was usually pretty good, but there were also some series of comic strips that had good stories and humor that made you turn straight to them when you got a new issue.
Some of the best humor comics were the What's New with Phil and Dixie by Phil Foglio, running from about issue 49 through 84. Knights of the Dinner Table began in Dragon (after being in other publications) at issue 226 and ran past issue 250.
Snarfquest was had a wonderful run by the great artist Larry Elmore, it began in issue # 75, ran until issue 145, with an extra episode in issue # 200. It began as a quest in the style of many a D&D campaign - starting off simple enough, then adding robots, spaceships, and time travel, all the while with the unique Elmore zaniness.
Twilight Empire by Stephen Sullivan and John Hebert played the fantasy elements more straight, had a pretty good plot, and incorporated a lot of small humor in the artwork. It ran from issue # 156 through 205.
There were other series that were great fun - Floyd (issues 222-245), Libram X (200-223), and of course, the much discussed ended-far-too-soon Wormy (from issue # 9 to its mysterious end in 132 due to the artist, Dave Trampier, abruptly retiring and/or withdrawing from the industry).
But my favorite series was Yamara by Barbara Ward and Chris Adams, running from 135 to past issue 221. Started off as a typical adventuring party - dwarf fighter, elf mage, human priest, and the title character the halfling thief - doing typical adventuring shenanigans. Then it got weird, with omnipotent artifacts, love sick vampires, spelljamming, and the crazy antics of one Ogrek the Undisciplined. You never knew what twists and turns would happen in the next episode, but just hung on for the ride.
If you got these old magazines, try reading these comics sequentially. They make for great entertainment and represent another thing I always loved about getting the old magazines that I miss today.
The old run of Dragon boasted great artwork, and nowhere was that more evident than on the covers. So many of them were just classical examples of what fantasy art is all about. Indeed, what attracted me to the entire hobby was the artwork, so here is my little write up/ode to the great cover work that the early issues of Dragon gave to the gaming industry.
The magazine was originally called "The Dragon", from issues 1-38. The font of the magazine title eventually changed in issue 27, from an organic look to the fantasy block lettering. The title was shortened to simply "Dragon" in issue 39. From this point it was the classic cover format, though I did not like the UPC bar code that was stuck on the front starting in issue 81 and running until 169. The new font with the "Dragon Magazine" title began in issue 181 and ran until 224. For a time, it styled itself as a "monthly adventure role playing aid" before it just became a magazine.
There were some more font changes and more article descriptions were added to the cover towards the end of the archived issues (225-250). What was nice was that usually the cover was reproduced in the first couple pages without any of the articles or titles printed over it. Also, in many of these early issues, there would be a little blurb in the table of contents that would talk about the artist, what went into the making of the cover, and the title of the picture (if any).
Some of D&D's best artists took a shot at a cover every now and then. Erol Otus (55), Darlene Pekul (37), Boris Vallejo (52), did a piece. Some other great names did multiple issues: Jim Holloway, Paul Jaquays, Roger Raupp, Keith Parkinson, Larry Elmore, Daniel Horne, Robin Wood, and Clyde Caldwell all submitted top notch efforts to Dragon over the years. There were a couple great experimental covers, such as the raised cover on issue 100 and the 3-D sticker on 200.
Having said all that, there were some less than inspired efforts. Usually these were the more comedic themed covers that just looked out of place. Some were down right ugly (I am talking about 19 and 29, those are just indescribable).
Now I am by no means an art expert, but I know what I like, and here are some of my favorites from the golden age of D&D.
#126, "Saving the Best for Last" by Daniel Horne This was the first issue I actually bought, mostly due to this stunning battle scene.
#97, "Music Lover" by Robin Wood Quintessential dragon graces this cover, lovely detail and I liked a lot of Robin Wood's scenery.
#76, "The Thing From the Pit" by Clyde Caldwell Had to include at least one of Caldwell's classics! He submitted so many great covers in the early years of Dragon, that it is almost unfair to just pick one.
But my all time favorite Dragon cover artist has to be Denis Beauvais. He did a series of classical chess based covers (83, 86, 89) that alone puts him at the top of my list. But then we have his brilliant "Conflict" on issue 111, and the terrific (if unorthodox) "Firepower" that adorned issue 143. these were just D&D art at its finest.
These represent some of the best of a great lot to choose from. Really, the artists have as much to do with the enduring success of the gaming hobby as the designers. Feel free to add your own favorites to the discussion.
P.S. You can see a video montage over every single print issue of Dragon on youtube. It is absolutely terrific and you should watch it whenever you need inspiration. I will repost the link to the youtube video tribute here:
While the old run of Dragon boasted great artwork, sometimes the interior art fell into the age old editing trap of reusing old images. Sometimes you would find pieces of artwork from other sources cut up a bit and added into the articles.
That does not necessarily detract from the magazine as a whole, but I made a game of it to find pieces here and there that were taken from modules, the endless quest books, or from reference books that were obviously used to either fill up space or because there was a deadline missed.
Kinda like finding easter eggs in video games!
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Dragon Magazine was, perhaps after the Greyhawk folio and boxed sets, my favorite supplement for D&D. My first issues was #58 and I subscribed from the mid-60s onward for a number of years, stopped somewhere in the 130s or so, then resubscribed with just before 3e, and stopped again sometime after that.
Magic and spellcasting were very common articles in Dragon. Now having new spells was always welcome, but generally those types of articles were not especially memorable. But the articles that dug into the metamagics and gave some thought to how these imaginary forces would actually work are the ones I keep referring to many years after the fact.
Case in point, Invisibility is given a very detailed review of three theories behind how it works with new spellcasting options for each concept. That is way back in Issue 105. Magical fire and heat are likewise "scientifically" discussed in Issue 123. Readers were invited to discuss the theories and solutions to the Stoneskin spell, that discussion is in Issue 199.
Illusions are some of the best spells to cast and the worst to adjudicate. There are quite a few articles throughout Dragon's run that addresses the problems with illusions, but I think the advice to illusionists in Issue 229 and the solutions described in Issues 131 and 222 are good starting points to those who want/need to figure out how the mechanics of these spells will be handled in your campaigns.
One article I always come back to is an article on why wizards can't cast healing magic - check it out in Issue 148. Creative casting of low level spells is discussed in Issue 169, and a great article on how to use the rules to maximize your spell casting effectiveness in terms of spell duration is in Issue 130. And spell casters need to have their own sense of individual style, read the article on customizing spells in Issue 200 for inspiration.
These articles are all worth a good read.
One interesting metamagic concept that I think is a fascinating idea is that of spell focusing. Basically, it is using a magical device to change a memorized spell into another one (i.e. a wand that can change a memorized spell into fireball, or a ring that can do likewise for feather fall). The benefits of this item are that the spell caster can now memorize more esoteric spells instead of loading up on the most used ones, giving the caster more room to be creative. These items may prove useful even if they are never engaged for that reason. Give this article a read in Issue 111 and see if that sparks anything for you.
So those are my picks for magical theory in Dragon's early issues. Now go out and sling your best spells (like this necromantic spell I used to resurrect this long dormant thread!)
I just got done with a quick look at some magic spell concepts. But the art of divine, priestly magic is a bit different.
General clerical healing under the 1st and 2nd edition rules was discussed in Issue 140 - "Fantasy Clerics and Clerical Fallacies". It is an in depth discussion on how the presence of healing magic would or would not have an impact on the quasi medieval society so many D&D campaigns are set in. Worth a look.
New spells are fairly common articles in Dragon, but the spell of regenerate wounds has some long term implications and is something to consider adding in your play. Check out the Arcane Lore article in Issue 134.
Divine Quests are given an article in Issue 152. The 1st and 2nd edition spell of bestow curse just resulted in some roll penalties for a time. In Issues 167 and 229 there are some truly horrific minor and major curse effects for your baddies to throw at the good guys or divine wrath to bestow on those players who offend the gods.
The legal, social, and political ramifications of a world with resurrection spells is discussed in Issue 210, there is a lot of food for thought in this article.
So there are some priestly magic to accompany the wizardly magic suggestions I had earlier. Check them out! O-D
The "Ecology of..." series was one of the most popular of Dragon articles. The concept all began in Issue 72 with the Piercer - (that article was actually a reprint from another magazine) and for the first time, some method was put to some of the madness that we called the Monster Manual.
From that start, most issues had an ecology article. What one thinks of as the best of these articles is probably mostly a matter of individual taste. Some were better or more useful than others. A lot of them fell into one of two basic templates - either they were written as a quasi scholarly article as a sage would describe a contemporary beast or they were written as an adventurer's encounter with some creature with footnotes as to the game stats.
For my part, I have a fondness for the articles that had a good story to go with it, those are the ones that I remember after all these years, even if I hardly ever used the monster in question in actual gameplay.
I always identified with the poor slob who met his end at that hands of a cave fisher (Issue 135), I enjoyed the banter between two antagonists in the ecology of the giant leech (Issue 123), the story of the greenhag (Issue 125) is very spooky and memorable, and the gelatinous cube (Issue 124) had some good flavor text that made it stand out. One of the more pedestrian articles was the ecology of the kech (Issue 142) but that one stuck in my head as it showed me how an even minor league creature could be made dangerous.
There are tons a good monster articles in the Dragon Magazine run. Many of the ecology notes are not affected by any edition changes, the combat stats may differ but not to a great degree. What are your favorite monster ecology articles?
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I just remembered another couple things, one particular series of ecologies were the Monster Hunters Association articles in which a group of mages goes out to formally study various creatures and hijinks ensue. These were written by Johnathan Richards and were very nice as a series, but as for me, my favorite article he wrote were not from this series but stand-alones that just had compelling flavor texts surrounding the game stats. I refer to the Roper (Issue 232) and the Mongrelmen (Issue 242). Check them out for a good story as well as the monster information.
There were some more ecologies that had larger implications then just combat encounters. These articles detailed entire races and described their cultures more than the average ecology. "The Sunset World" describes the Illithid race and gives an eerie alternative background of these fell monsters and other similar creatures (Issue 150). The aboleth are described as beings of super science in Issue 131. The Yuan ti (one of my all time favorite monsters) is given an asian style background that became more or less canonical in Issue 151.
Finally, there is some definite Greyhawk flavor in the ecology of the Gibbering Mouther in Issue 160. The author of that article was Nigel Findley, who also authored the Wintershiven section of Fate of Istus, so there are some good insights to the politics of the Pale in that ecology.
So there you have it, what do you all think? You have a golden oldies favorite classic monster or a soft spot for some of the weird ones? Please discuss and keep this thread going!
One of the big challenges to a DM is having to adopt the roles of all the supporting characters in the game - the NPCs. You have to play the roles of mentors, allies, hirelings, enemies, monsters, and even deities at the drop of a hat. There are a lot of great and timeless articles in Dragon's first 250 issues that can help with this.
"Characterization Made Easy" from Issue 156 is a good article to start with - advice for both players and DMs as to where to get your motivations down. Travelers are reviewed in Issue 105. Issue 184 was all about NPC creation and making them memorable, so there are four main articles in that issue alone that are all great pieces of work.
Motives for villains is in a great article in Issue 177 about megalomaniacs, although the focus was more on sci-fi and espionage type gaming, it applies to fantasy RPGs as well. A fairly humorous look at the NPC nobodies is in Issue 112. Another humorous look at characterization is in Issue 226 in a lovely table of personality quirks to spring on your hapless players.
But my favorite of all time article on NPC's (and indeed one of my favorite articles of all) is "50 Ways to Foil your Players" from Issue 136. No DM can read through it without thinking to themselves of all the ways to amuse themselves with these characters.
Have some laughs at your player's expense. Remember, if you, the DM, aren't having fun, then what's the point? heh
I recall greatly enjoying Dan Salas, The Ecology of the Shade, in Dragon Magazine 126, at pp. 40–43. Although brief, its in-character narrative memorably evoked pathos and thereby framed a distinctive take on this unusual entry in the MM II.
Bazaar of the Bizarre was a long running series in Dragon. Dedicated to introducing new magical items to the game, just about every issue had at least one new magical widget that you could spring on your players. The first formal column under this name was from issue number 27, but new items constantly appeared in the magazine under this column and in other articles.
There were tons of submissions in the print run of Dragon. In truth, this type of submission was the easiest type of article to get submissions for, as most players and DMs would go through their campaigns and create a few chachkies along the way. New rings, wands, staves, armor, weapons and shields were all represented in these columns, with a "Treasure Trove" of a huge amount of items in Issues 91 and 99.
These "standard" magic item types were welcome additions, but I liked the weird stuff - the miscellaneous magic that made the DMG treasure table run into multiple pages. Stuff like quivers (Issue 133), lanterns (179), scabbards (226), locks (239), and keys (200) offered some great ideas and when I saw an item I liked, would often just drop them into play as needed.
Aside from lists of a singular type of item, there were some Bazaar articles that had a theme, such as items for filling out a castle in 145 or military items in 178. Things for steeds, familiars, cooking, travelling, work, for different races and monster types - the list was endless! Then there were variations on existing magic items - such as more figurines of wondrous power (196) for example. Merty's magic items from Issue 168 were useful as most of them had some side effect or chance to go wrong.
Going beyond merely introducing new things were those articles that discussed in depth the use and ramifications of some magic items. Crystal balls and scrying in general were discussed in Issue 147. The Deck of Many Things got a great write up with a wonderful cool insert in Issue 148 (I still have my cards from this issue!). The more creative uses for Decanters of Endless Water and Portable Holes were discussed in Issues 171 and 221 respectively. These are good articles to stimulate your thoughts on how items can be used to their maximum potential. How about using cursed items? An in depth review of what to do with the booby prizes of D&D was published in Issue 215.
Finally, with all this magical junk piling up all over, there is a discussion on a system of making magical items subject to miscibility (like with potions, or with the rule regarding a two ring limit). While I did not like the table of effects that much, the idea of limiting magic items by making them react to each other is a good concept, check it out in Issue 229.
So go out and find yourself some magical trinkets and adapt them for your own campaigns! Its fun and adds endless variety.
Ed Greenwood's Nine Hells articles (75, 76, 91) are some of my favorite articles.
I like the article in 111 about magic items that focus a spellcaster's spell into another spell; it allows some versatility. The Death of an Archmage adventure was great and set the bar for what I expect from a mystery adventure.
Speaking of adventures, I always liked Roger E. Moore's adventures the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (83) and Aesirhammer (90).
On a less favorable Ed Greenwood note, I note that when he gave stats for Elminister in 110, he also introduced the Evasion spell which basically reads as "my NPC is too important to let your players kill."
Lareth brings up an excellent series of articles from Dragon. Not really Greyhawk, but in my opinion, very topical to the D&D fantasy setting are those articles about the Nine Hells.
Those articles on the nine Hells are just fantasy RPG gold! I have used them in a few ideas of my own here on canonfire. I think they have the right mix of classical mythos and fantasy to make them workable and playable ideas. There was another take on the Hellish mythos in Issue 28 that has a more Milton-esque flair to the topic.
Other metaphysical Dragon articles include the series on the Suel gods (from Issue 86 to about 92). And there were some articles on the gods from other Greyhawk pantheons from Issue 67 to about 71. These are all obviously First Edition articles, but there are nice little flavor ideas in these old write ups that you may find useful.
For more 1e goodness, read the articles on quasi-deities in Issue 71 and Saints in Issue 79. These characters have popped up in future materials time and time again, it is nice to see their first incarnations.
Finally, one of the most debatable concepts from the old editions of D&D was/is alignments. I, for one, never used the 'alignment language' concept, thinking that made the alignment system too black-and-white. There have been a lot of articles discussing how to make the alignment concept playable and workable, Gary Gygax wrote an editorial on the subject in Issue 38. But I liked the article in Issue 163 "Making Law out of Chaos" the best. Mostly because after all the discussion about the various alignments, he ends with the best advice regarding alignments: the reasonable DM should see nothing wrong with occasionally having a paladin have a bad day or a chaotic evil thief helping an old lady across the street. After all, nobody's perfect.
For zoological information, Dragon Magazine should be the last place you look. Still, much like the 'Ecology of' series of articles, there have been many bestiary articles about normal animals and plants that reflect some attention on the author's part to integrate something they have learned into gaming terms.
These are not part of the 'Ecology of' series, but give a certain shine of realism on to your fantasy gaming. First off, animal combat is discussed in Issue 187 and 116. These articles both discuss how normal animals would really attack in game terms. In "By Tooth and Claw" in 116 especially are some great anecdotes of how animals acted in the real world that seem fantastic. Another fun look is how medieval sages categorized animals in ye olden days. It's more of a laugh but it may give some ideas on how a fantasy sage would describe creatures to PCs, check it out in Issue 199.
If your characters are going to the Vault of the Drow, I recommend reading the article on souping up the basic spider in Issue 67. Spring a couple of these non-traditional spiders on your party to spice up those encounters. Scorpions had a couple articles on their habits, in Issues 120 and 197. Insects overall are given a great treatment in Issue 174. All these articles together make your basic vermin more deadly.
Now how about discussing mounts and pets? Horses are given a solid 2e summary in Issue 191 that is worth going over. While it is more of an article on encumbrance and packing, the discussion of mules in Issue 48 is a good piece of work for the logistically minded. Likewise, elephants as war mounts and beasts of burden are covered in Issue 177.
The fossilized remains of dinosaurs would have logically given rise to legends of dragons and fantastic beasts. So it is natural that Dragon Magazine had scores of dinosaur articles - see Issues 55, 112, 187, and 175 for prehistoric gaming.
Finally there is a nice piece on having animals as familiars for your wizards. How to care for them and how to role play their personalities is discussed in Issue 147.
As always, check them out, it will be time well spent.
The Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared" and with all the crazy things a typical D&D campaign can throw at you, you better take heed of this advice. So there have been many resources over the years dealing with gear for the avid adventurers.
One great article I come back to from time to time is the engineering behind the common coil of rope. Issue 135 has an article that discusses the breaking strength of different sizes of rope, materials, prices, even a short list of creative uses for that most useful of dungeoneering equipment.
101 uses for a blanket is also a good go to article for use of a common item (Issue 228). Some new items for the well packed adventurer are in Issue 239. Way back in Issue 69 is a good article that has some creative items that no adventurer should be without.
Now, realism was never really a big aspect of my gaming experience. But there are some folks out there that really get into the logistics of the game and encumbrance rules for their equipment. For those folks, look into the basic pack pack item lists in Issue 191. Food and Water and their effects on wilderness travel are discussed in Issue 107.
Finally, a good article and discussion of the AD&D weight system as it relates to coinage is in Issue 167. This is a nice article for a couple reasons, in discussing how much a standard gold piece would weigh, a new silver standard is proposed to make the costs of adventuring become more manageable. Worth reading through to see if it is something you would want to adopt.
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