I still remember the first time I discovered Dragon Magazine: I had been playing Basic Dungeons & Dragons for some time when I came across the arctic cover of Dragon Magazine #81. I didn't realize there could be more rules than what was in the rules books, and flipping through the publication blew my mind. Picking up the first issue of Gygax Magazine brought all those memories rushing back.
Let's start with the cover. The word "Gygax" is in the same bright red font used for "Dragon." Three interesting topics appear in the top right, and that's it. It features a beautifully detailed encounter between an ettin and two adventurers titled "Still Unlucky" by iconic Dragon Magazine artist Daniel Horne. The interior evokes the same look and feel, with a similar Dragon Magazine format. It's no accident. The editorial explains:
The name Gygax is our way of letting you know that we care about the history of adventure gaming, and that we believe in its future. Luke and Ernie Gygax literally grew up with the hobby. Their contributions to gaming reach all the way back to the beginning, yet both are keeping things fresh today, playtesting new games, running Gary Con, and of course, helping to create Gygax magazine.
My friend James Carpio opens the magazine with "The cosmology of role-playing games." Carpio creates a cosmology in which he traces the lineage of role-playing games in a visual fashion, dividing generations of games in to Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, and other indie, satellite, OGL, and OSR games. It could easily serve as an introduction to a history of role-playing games.
Esteemed former Dragon Magazine editor Tim Kask is up next with "Still playing after all these years." Mr. Kask details his experiences behind the screen (the Person behind the Screen, or PbtS) and invents several phrases along the way: hive-minds, extemp adventures, and a little bait and switch known as "fun."
Leonard Lakofka, creator of the character Leomund and his column, Leomund's Tiny Hut which first appeared in Dragon Magazine #30, returns with "Leomund's Secure Shelter." Lakofka statistically analyzes the advantages between +1 to hit and +1 to damage, along with some amusing anecdotes about his fondness for bending the rules.
"The ecology of the BANSHEE" by Ronald Corn is an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons article, but that's not immediately obvious from the text. Some players might wonder what "save vs. breath weapon" means, but older gamers know it's not about fighting halitosis (or maybe it is!).
Luke Gygax's (creator of the iconic Melf) "Bridging generations" tells a heartwarming tale of his quest for a portrait on eBay for a bit of fiction he can read to his daughters – which is quaint given the ubiquity of the back issues of Dragon Magazine on the Internet these days.
Nevin P. Jones explores "Gaming with a virtual tabletop," which praises Roll20. Roll20 was also officially announced as the official virtual tabletop of TSR Games. And of course, my love for Roll20 is well-documented.
Dennis Sustare provides some ideas for alternate spell systems in "Keeping magic magical," followed by a short tale of James M. Ward (creator of Metamorphosis Alpha) in which he explains how to mix sci-fi with fantasy in "Playing it the science fiction way." Cory Doctorow creates a basic role-playing game in "DMing for your toddler," a topic near and dear to my heart -- I created dungeon crawl rules for my three-year-old titled Crypts & Critters.
Steve Kenson, creator of Mutants & Masterminds provides new powers in "Great power for ICONS." Prolific author Ethan Gilsdorf follows with "The future of tabletop gaming" in which he details the evolution of Dungeons & Dragons and his gaming experience along with it. Ernest Gygax Jr. reminisces about his family history in "The Gygax family storyteller." We return to superheroes, and specifically Godlike, with Dennis Detwiller's "Talents off the front line."
Then there's my article, "D&D past, now, and Next" which covers the differences between different editions of Dungeons & Dragons, and what Dungeon Masters have to be wary about when converting older editions to newer versions of the game.
"Gnatdamp: A sanctuary in the swamp" by Michael Curtis is pretty much what it says on the tin: a system-neutral swamp village. Wolfgang Baur returns with "The Kobold's Cavern," resurrecting Kobold Quarterly in spirit if not in form. Rodrigo Garcia Carmona's "An AGE of great inventions" adds rules to the Adventure Game Engine system. Marc Radle's "Scaling combat feats for Pathfinder" is self-explanatory.
The magazine concludes with three comics: Marvin the Mage! By Jim Wampler, the return of What's New With Phil & Dixie by Phil and Kaja Foglio, and Rich Burlew's Order of the Stick. It's telling that two of the comics refer to their online versions.
Overall, this is a fine tribute to the past of Dragon Magazine and Dungeons & Dragons history, building a bridge to the new world inhabited by Roll20 and online comics. The diverse voices, eclectic content, and superb artwork guarantees this issue will become an instant collectible.
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