The Dragon in Review, Issue Forty-Nine

By Keith Senkowski
On March 31, 2016

This issue of Dragon is pretty full of interesting articles, both from a practical standpoint and from a well that is interesting historical survey standpoint. We get some long-form journalism in the vein of Rolling Stone or The Atlantic, a series of articles and counter articles concerning Fantasy Role playing Tournaments, and lots of bits and bobs for actual gaming. All told, this is a pretty solid issue where things dovetailed nicely together to make it feel like a real magazine.

Tim Hildebrandt in Detail

I will say it now, I have never been a huge fan of the Hildebrandt Brothers. I have always respected their craft and really like a few of their Tolkien pieces, but they never inspired me. Something about their work always felt static to me, much like Larry Elmore’s work.

Artistic inspiration is a tough thing to quantify. It grows and matures over time along with you as an artist and a person. There is no right or wrong about it. That all said, the long-form interview with Tim Hildebrandt in this issue is pretty great.

With this special cover from Tim Hildebrandt, they break their current brand guidelines for covers.

Written and photographed by Bryce Knorr it reads like nothing else I have seen in this magazine. It is just a strong piece of journalism that doesn’t have that fanzine gloss of adoration all over it. You get to see into the world of Tim Hildebrandt for a time and walk out of it all the better for it.

Fantasy Role Playing Tournaments?

As a historical note, the three articles in this issue regarding the flaws in role playing game tournaments is rather interesting. It opens with an article on how to more effectively judge tournaments, then moves onto how fix the AD&D Open, and ends with Mentzer’s reply that it isn’t quite so simple. It is a very interesting historical note considering how much a part of the convention scene this sort of play was.

I don’t think I will ever understand D&D Tournaments.

For my own part, I have never understood the appeal of a D&D tournament. I understand that because of the war-gaming roots of the hobby there would be an appeal, but then why not just play in war game tournaments? Just like the irrational hatred of genre movies for some folks, I will never understand it.

Another NPC Class?

Why? Please tell me why these things are needed? Why is a samurai NPC class a thing and not just a class? What purpose does this really serve? What need is it filling?

Regardless how silly NPC classes are, this image is hot.

Maybe it is as simple as DM’s want to play cool PC’s in the game along side the party. Maybe the hundreds of monster options aren’t good enough for them. Maybe the designers of these things just want to make classes without really thinking through the rules. Maybe people are just bored. I am with these types of articles.

Alchemy

This should be in the rules for anyone to use. Not quarantined off in an NPC class. This image is just the tip of the iceberg of the interesting stuff in this article to extend the Alchemist NPC class.

It’s criminal. Criminal I say.

Alchemy rules like this shouldn’t be relegated to just NPCs.

Ed Greenwood Wants DM’s to Cry

So I tried this very thing Greenwood is advocating, having the DM handle all the rules and let the players dive deep into the narrative. In theory it seems like a good idea. It is more narrative driven in theory, but in practice it is a nightmare. In my experience it is disempowering of the players and a logistical nightmare for the DM.

No rules for you, one year.