Anything is possible-ness.

Let's read Dragon Magazine from the beginning

Mon, 09/16/2013 - 10:25 -- Alex

I recently got the hankering to get back into Dragon Magazine - which I collected steadfastly as a teenager from 1987 to 1993. After scouring the internet, I found and ordered a wackload of old issues spanning #5-#200 and also got ahold of the Dragon Magazine archive released by TSR in 1999.

One absolutely phenomenal find that I've come across is this thread on forum.rpg.net that has continuously been updated by user un(reason) since March 2008 and which provides a fairly detailed overview of every single issue of Dragon ever published, going into fairly extensive depth into the evolution of the roleplaying hobby from its birth in Gary Gygax' basement in the 1970s. I've immersed myself in this five-year-running dedicated thread and after a week or so of occasionally reading through entries have made my way to the early 1980s. Needless to say, it's a wild ride, replete with insight into a magazine that was arguably ground-zero for the hobby. Included are references to Gygax' regular written contributions to the magazine, the birth and eventual demize of play-by-mail gmaing and eventual evolution of computer-gaming, as well as the comings-and-goings of various other industry contributors and their respective forrays into the field. 

From the issue 2 review:

Rangers. The very first instance of a twinktastic new class being introduced in the magazine! They only go to level 13, and lack the rogue abilities and two weapon fighting that they would later get, but are deadly against giants, can track, and become pretty decent spellcasters in both wizard and cleric lists at high level. I certainly recognise the AD&D 1st ed ranger in these, but they are almost completely different to the 3.5 ranger. Once again we see an influx of fiddly social restrictions that have since disappeared, and a tendency towards static abilities with an arbitrary chance of success. Unified mechanics, where are you?

Some really primitive line art, little more than a napkin scribble. Still, the first issue had no art at all, so its progress I guess.

Polearms! A whole page on polearms! Getcha dozen varieties of polearms here. All of the names are familiar sounding, and I think this is most of the ones that would be a staple of both 1st and 2nd ed AD&D. Much pointless minutinae contained within.

Some bitching about printing and dice costs, and saying they may have to raise prices. Yeah, thats a familiar story whatever the era. This is a reminder that before D&D, dice other than 6 siders were exceedingly rare, and they had to get up a distribution chain to get a regular supply of them.

Expansion for Panzer warfare. Again, we don't see enough rules for playing with tanks these days. Damn narrativists and their focus on feelings. We want more tanks!

1st D&D supplement Greyhawk out now. Boot hill coming soon.

In some ways this is less familiar than the 1st issue, as it really points out how the organisation of gaming has changed with the internet. Still, I can see things are already developing, such as variable damage for weapons, power creep, and the start of the first D&D setting. And its certainly a much lighter read than modern stuff. I'm definitely enjoying things so far, and I can see why it took off so fast.

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