Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition: Role Aids Dragons By Cory Glaberson For Your Old School Campaigns

Way back in the mists of the Eighties about Eighty Six on a Thursday afternoon right about two o'clock or so I was running my ass off to escape the daily pounding at the hands of a bully trying to make it to the bookshop in downtown Torrington. What was waiting for me was a prize beyond measure for first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons from Mayfair games Dragons by Cory Glaberson. Dragonlance was on the horizon but not for me at all, the series never resonated but instead Dragonriders of Pern by American-Irish author Anne McCaffrey had a far greater impact. Mayfair games Dragons takes a number of pieces of inspiration from that classic series which began in Sixty Seven.

The blurb from the back of the book via Wayne's Books pretty much gives the tone & feel of the book;""LIKE TINY DAGGERS, particles of ice cut into your face and hands as you dive through the clouds. You feel the muscles along the back of the massive ruby dragon tighten and bunch as it strains to turn for an attack.

A scream of defiance echoes upward from the rapidly growing form of the riderless black dragon below. In moments, the once distant beast looms to fill the sky. Still breathless from the battering sharp turn, you loose two barbed javelins into the dark leather wing, to little effect. Muttering a prayer to an elder god, you couch your bulky lance, as the two great dragons plunge directly toward each other ...
THIS REFERENCE WORK contains the lives, histories and cultures of the dragon races and introduces a new character class: the DRAGONLORDS. Included are three independent, but related adventures for characters to assist the Dragonlords In a war of epic proportions. The adventures are for six to eight characters from sixth to ninth skill level."

These dragons were the ones from the Monster Manual sort of mixed with a whole plethora of other D&D & independent world mythology to add into your games. This was because dragons were children of the gods and therefore heirs to the linage of the legendary and divine. So way before the Draconomicon for 2nd edition came out this book was dealing slices of dragon culture, lineage, magic, culture and more all build around the character class of the Dragon rid ermm Dragon lords. With really awesome cut away pieces of artwork like this one!

All of the usual suspects are there including age charts, spell usage, variations of standard dragons, mutations, sports, & much more. There's lots of information on several of the established dragon's species, from stats to ecology to their 'aging process and molting' and clan information. All of this was completely independent from any of the 'official' material that was coming out of classic era TSR at the time.  Everything was well laid out and columned from the usual Mayfair specifics when it came to their Eighty six era books.

The material here was centered around the dragons & the dragon lords (riders) where they could build villages, etc. around them completely so that campaigns had a PC anchor to hold all of it together in a cohesive whole. This also made the prospect for domain play practical & in some cases welcome. This was a part of making the dragon vital to the well being of the world setting that they were used in. For fans of this sort of a campaign it was very nicely handled. This made the dragon more then a mere loot point & experience tick but a living fire breathing entity capable of driving adventure & play within a campaign.

The adventures within Dragons centers around the ecology and setting of the dragon as a campaign element. They're very well done for what they do which is to put the dragons center stage & create play around them with additional companions, monsters, and more all central to the dragon a player on the stage of the setting. The PC are going to have to deal with all of the material that surrounds them. The experience is weird for PC's used to simply slaying or running away from these intelligent beasts.

And yes I've actually played in, DMed, & ran several mini campaigns from this book. Well that was until Dragonlance created the official world setting of AD&D! Then the suddenly friends and players no longer were interested in the 'old' dragons. Yeah, but there were diehards who continued to play in & use this volume until Dragonlance had moved on. That's another blog post my friends.
I have nothing against Dragonlance or its books, if their your cup of tea then more power to you!

But does Dragons do what it advertises on the tin? In a word yes! Dragons takes the traditional AD&D dragon species & adds an entirely different dimension to these hazards, horrors, monsters, and dynamic part of the AD&D game. The book is now long forgotten by many players & DM's. It goes for about six dollars to ten dollars on Amazon and other outlets. Its one of those books that let my imagination take flight!

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