The Dragon in Review, Issue Fifty-One

By Keith Senkowski
On August 16, 2016

Any issue that follows the 50TH issue is probably going to be a let down. All that energy thrown at a special issue filled with dragon themed goodness, the follow up is bound to be more subdued. However, the 51ST issue is more of a mixed bag than a let down.

As issues go, it is a little uneven, filled up front with Traveller articles and not a lot of D&D content. However it ends with a full board game called, Search for the Emperor’s Treasure that is rather interesting. So mixed bag, but still plenty to enjoy.

Susan Collins?

When I first dug up the credits for this cover I had a little shock. Susan Collins is listed as the artist and my brain first asked, “The British artist? Holy shit!” However, I became convinced that it wasn’t her. The piece just doesn’t feel right to me (though I would be pleased to be wrong).

The my brain spat out, “Wait a second. The senator from Maine?!?! Holy shit that is even better.” Again, I don’t think that is right, but secretly wish it is true. I mean Maine is like Wisconsin. The winters are long, so maybe she played a lot of D&D in the 80s while moonlighting as an artist.

Either way, I like this piece. I still hate the border framing of this era’s covers, but I find the strong sense of realism in the piece enjoyable and refreshing.

Traveller Article Illustration

Traveller Articles

I am the worst person to read through Traveller articles. I have never cared about the game and feel myself falling asleep from boredom as I write this. With that in mind, you get these briefest of summaries.

  • Make Your Own Aliens by Roger E. Moore is the thinest of articles with a few tables for determing the individual length of the alien’s feet and what not.
  • Plotting a Course for Choosy Players, by Jeff Swycaffer basically hates the character generation of Traveller and wants to make Han Solo. The article is how you do that without the random generation part of character creation, which I thought was the whole point of this ridiculous game.
  • New Ideas for Old Ships, by Paul Montgomery Cranbaugh, is a bunch of tables for modifying the standard ships to give them character and a history. That only makes sense in this article if character and history are determined by weapon combinations.
  • Paul Montgomery Cranbaugh is back with an article titled In the Defense of Computers. I have to be honest. I see no utility in this article at all. It is really just a description of computers in the Traveller fiction.
  • Paul Montgomery Cranbaugh will not go away. He writes two additional articles, Planet Parameters and Masers and Cameras. The first is basically a math lesson on how gravity and planetary rotation works for different sized worlds. The second explains what a Maser, Survey Module, and Autocannon are in the game for your ship.
  • Paul Montgomery Cranbaugh finally lets someone else have the mic and Marc Miller gives us The Miller Milk Bottle. It is literally an article regarding milk bottles, which were left out of the rules. I am not convinced that this is a joke considering the nature of the other articles.

The Winged Folk Illustration

The Winged Folk

With no transition from the slow ship to space we are presented the Winged Folk, by William Lenox. I’ll let the stat block speak for itself, but what caught my eye was the artist. Todd Lockwood, who was key in defining the look and feel of D&D 3rd Edition.

  • FREQUENCY: Uncommon
  • NO. APPEARING: 10-100 (100 – 1000)
  • ARMOR CLASS: 7 (or better)
  • MOVE: 12″/18″
  • HIT DICE: 1 + 1
  • % IN LAIR: 10%
  • TREASURE TYPE: N (G, S, T in lair)
  • NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
  • DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1 – 10 or by weapon type
  • SPECIAL ATTACKS: +1 to hit with bow or javelin
  • SPECIAL DEFENSES: Surprised only on a 1
  • MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
  • INTELLIGENCE: Very to Genius
  • ALIGNMENT: Neutral to Chaotic Good
  • SIZE: M (5′-6′ tall, 10′-12′ wingspan)
  • PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
  • ATTACK/DEFENSE MODES: Nil

Paladin Illustration

Ten Commandments for Paladins

Sure. Why not? Let’s just make paladins monolithic regardless of the relgious underpinnings of their beliefs.

I really shouldn’t be surprised. As stated in the article, it is based on 11th century knights of western Europe. Most amateur medieval scholarship focuses on France and England and makes the assumption that “it was like that in all of Europe.” Never mind that that even France wasn’t monolithic at this time culturally.

If you haven’t guessed, not a fan of this article and it’s anacronisms. Take a look thou self:

  1. Thou shalt accept the counsels of thy mentor and obey all his commandments
  2. Thou shalt defend thy mentor
  3. Thou shalt respect all weakness and constitute thyself the defender of them
  4. Thou shalt be faithful to the mentor who reared thee
  5. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy
  6. Thou shalt make war against eveil without cessation and without mercy
  7. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy duties to thy mentor
  8. Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word
  9. Thou shalt give largely of thy wealth
  10. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the right and the good against injustice and evil

Emperor's Treasure Illustration

The Search for the Emperor’s Treasure

I really don’t know much about the game. It seems, like many of the games from this time frame, a little confused. It has lots of bits that you think would work in theory, but not sure how well it would work in play. I mean just look at this inventory of game parts:

  • 172 game markers
  • 34 treasure chits
  • 8 character chits
  • 42 encounter chits
  • 27 arms chits
  • 26 spell chits
  • 2 ship markers
  • 45 wound markers
  • 1 sheet of 8 character cards
  • 1 playing map
  • 1 rules booklet
  • Several 6 sided dice