The Dragon in Review, Issue Forty-Eight

By Keith Senkowski
On March 14, 2016

While I found a lot of this issue’s content to be lacking, it did trigger a lot of thoughts. That is sometimes the case with these things and why I love Dragon so much. It wasn’t always the content itself or the art, but where my brain went in reaction to it. In some ways Dragon is at it’s best when it is prompting you to write the issue you wanted to see, not the one they presented you.

Cos I’m the Taxman, Yeah, I’m the Taxman

A funny thing happens when I see the great Phil Foglio’s artwork. It is always recognizable, which brings a smile to my face. This is always followed by an internal debate in my head because in my brain I mispronounce his name as Foliogo. I have no idea what my problem is.

Anyway, this cover is pleasantly amusing. It isn’t by any stretch of the imagination his best work, but it does it’s job well. Considering how much of a pain in the ass taxes are for the average freelancer, I am doubly amused by the idea of adventurers getting hit by the tax man.

Phil Foglio’s artwork is always amusing to me.

Tell Us a Little About Yourself

This article on finding the right DM to play with is pretty interesting. Not so much because of the content but because of how I met some of my closest friends through a Burning Wheel game. It basically was a nerd interview.

How it went down, I was pointed in their direction and we met a Cleo’s on Chicago Ave. I walked in, found three guys sitting at a table and introduced myself. What followed was something similar to the chemistry test we use when hiring folks at my work. You get a feel for interests, attitudes and personality quirks. All and all, I think a very effective way to find folks you want to spend time playing games with.

None of this is bad advice really.


I just thought this public announcement was interesting because of the ongoing debate when I got into game design way back in 2004. Back then the question was, Is it worth joining GAMA as an independent game designer? Ultimately I along with many of my peers of that day thought no because the cost/benefit of the time. However, back in the day it had to make sense.

It’s kinda like when you announce a wedding in the local paper.

Mules are Important

Years ago I used to run AD&D Second Edition all the time for basically anyone who was interested. I had a core group of friends that always played, but we always had folks filter in and out. Because of that and my desire to play with the new toys in Dragon and stuff I picked up at the local Waldenbooks we cycled through campaignspretty quickly.

Despite that cycle of play, because we had the core four players, it almost became really one game. Like the Eternal Champion, names changed but fundamental characters stayed the same. Two of those players were basically Abbot and Costello, always at odds and getting into trouble because of the constant back and forth.

From that interplay I learned the importance of a good donkey or mule, particularly one called Alexi. See, Costello named his donkey after Abbott’s character leading to many amusing moments of play. Abbott really wanted to kill his namesake, but because the donkey carried so much gear he never could bring himself to do it.

Mules are so much more valuable than we give them credit.

Real Life?

Ok, I know this is meant to be a fun little joke game thing. I get that. I really do, but damn who the hell wants to play this? It is like a more depressing version of The Stanley Parable.

Just let the income numbers sink in for a minute.

Underwater Rules

Underwater rules for RPGs always seem to suck. They either go deep down the rabbit hole of realism or are entirely unsatisfying in their hand-wavery. This set of rules is a bit more of the former than the latter, but I thought the general approach (outlined in the first paragraph) was a good faith attempt to get it right.

What really caught my eye was the second section. The question it poses is valid and rife with interesting game play options. A few issues ago we got the Temple of Poseidon as an insert. It is a shame this wasn’t in that issue along with a wilderness setting surrounding it all with this kind of content exploration.

There is so much interesting meat in these little bits.

What the Crap?

There is this weird 481/2 issue inside of issue 48, but it isn’t very well deliniated. I think it is meant to be a humor bit, but the humor is so awful I’m not sure where one ends and the other begins.

Despite that, what is truly criminal is that I can’t find who did the art for this cover. The style is really familiar and it is killing me that I can’t figure it out. It is a wonderful little piece and the artist deserves the recognition.

Who did this? I couldn’t find any information in the issue.

Why? Just Why?

Why would you spend money on this advertisement? You don’t have a stock ad you could drop here to ensure there is something useful for folks?

I mean, I understand sometimes things don’t get done on time. I work in digital advertising and used to work in print, so I get it. What I don’t get is how you have nothing at all to put here except Coming Soon…. I mean even George R.R. Martin (the R.R. stands for really, really long winded) has winter is coming to fill space with.

What a waste of money.