The Dragon in Review, Issue Forty-Seven

By Keith Senkowski
On February 23, 2016

This is a really interesting issue of Dragon Magazine. We get the first appearance of a master artist on the cover, an advertisement for one of the most influential game companies of the time, and a full pulp heroes game called Crimefighters. Oh, and Dick Cheney sent a question to Dragon Magazine that got answered in this issue.

First Appearance of a Master

John Blumen is a fantastic artist who’s work I have admired for a long time. Here we get the pleasure of seeing some of his early work (also his first for Dragon). If you hit his website in the link above you can see both how raw this cover is, but also the places he went over time.

Personally I love the use of the color in this piece (mouse over to zoom in). He pulls in the warm and cool spectrum in interesting ways throughout. In particular I am captivated by the lizard mount/thing. It’s eyes haunt my dreams.

John Blumen makes his first appearance in Dragon Magazine and it is beautiful.

Epyx

This advertisement for Epyx games is important for two reasons. First, look at it! It is a classic example of the excited guy advertisement (not to be confused with the excited family ad). Just look at him. That dude is super happy to tell you about Epyx games.

The second reason is that this company is responsible for the creation of some amazingly influencial and important games. The most familiar are probably California GamesSummer GamesWinter Games and G.I.JOE. The ones people forget they are responsible are perhaps more important; th wide release and ports of Rogue (hence the term roguelike) and the Dunjonquest line.

Oh, and the company was founded when one of the founders bought a Commodor PET to help manage his D&D game. You can read about Dunjonquest here.

The very people you have to thank for the term Rogue-like.

Dick Cheney Played D&D

I mean I can only assume Cheney sent this letter to Dragon to get clarification on torture practices. It looks like we have TSR to blame for his justification of torture.

Yeah. I know. I hate that guy too.

D&D may not have led to devil worship, but it certainly led to the devil finding ways to justify torture.

Crimefighters

A really large section of the magazine is taken up by this article. A pulp fiction game (Shadow not Tarantino), it takes some interesting approaches to game design. David Cook is the author and I can almost see him struggling against accepted system design practices in this piece.

The two most interesting bits I saw I added to the image here. The first is a experience point path based on what are essentially pulp archetypes. Instead of killing things and taking your stuff, you need to act according to your archetype to advance.

The second interesting bit is the initiative system. It is tied to seconds of time and actions that are declared first. After their declaration you roll a D4, which only slightly modifies the results. Interesting stuff that wouldn’t take much to extrapolate away from a combat system to a resolution system.

For the time, this game was pretty novel. Probably why it never took off.