Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Having To Go Further A Field With Dragon Issue #94 For Your Old School Campaigns

Further & further down the rabbit hole I go with looking into both Stars Without Number Revised & Godbound. These two games have led me into a series of campaign notes that I made back in the 90's. Those notes pointed back to a little known resource from Dragon magazine issue #94. Not only does this issue have a gorgeous cover by Clyde Caldwell  but there are few important articles in this issue.  

From the Sorcerer's Scroll Official Changes To The Ranger By Gary Gygax  new rules for tracking & hacking. Many of the from the Sorcerer's Scroll would later on form the basis for AD&D first edition The Unearthed Arcana book. That's entirely different blog entry unto itself. But I massively digress here.

  'The Army Travels on Its Stomach' by Katherine Karr is massively interesting to the historical war gamer & D&D player. 'Honor is My Life' The Knights of Solomia By Tracy Hickman  is another possibility for incursion into Godbound. But its really flared out as historical background for Dragonlance. For both Stars Without Number & Godbound the 'Ecology of the Chimera' by Ed Greenwood is paramount. In the article are bits & pieces about Chimera speaking red dragon as a language & their origins being lost to the mists of time. For my own campaign back in the Nineties I used an etching from  1777 –84 by Louis Jean Desprez. called 
The Chimera (La Chimère de Monsieur Desprez). This hellish beast is mother of all Chimera  from the depths of Dante's Inferno. Capable of taking on a party of demigods by itself. She is the spawn of Tiamat & some other god cursed demon. All other Chimera are merely pale reflections of this beast from the depths of Hell. 

The real star of the issue is the Creature Catalog II, and this supplement contains monsters by many TSR illuminate; "Ed Greenwood: Belabra; Bhaergala; Firestar; Flamewing; Orgautha; Xaver. Matthew Quinn: Betta, Giant. Samuel Offutt: Dragon, Phase. Gregg Sharp: Ekrat. Lenard Lakofka: Fireball Fly; Lightning Bug, Giant. Roger Moore: Hurgeon; Urisk; Wyrm, Great. Stephen Inniss: Lillend; Rummele; Viltch. Kris Marquardt: Rekeihs" The monsters in the Creature Catalog are aimed at first edition AD&D which at the time of publication was the main stay on the rpg scene. All of these monsters are geared for one thing use as a mainstay within a campaign.
Need to hold an adventurer or hero for awhile and have them remain unharmed? The Belabra is on the job;"The belabra, or tangler, is as valued among merchants and other travelers as it is feared in the wild. Though it is a carnivore, it can be trained to entangle and hold creatures captive at its master's command without harming its victims" Imagine a Flumph but useful! Want a bard demi god cut off from its worshipers? Then a pack of bhaergala, is just right for assassinating such a target; "The bhaergala, or gunniwolf, is a large predator encountered in heavily wooded

often use this faculty to lure prey. Most areas from tropical to temperate climes. It is most common in jungles where the undergrowth is dense, for it uses the heavy cover to conceal itself from prey. Its food is known to include sylvan elves, satyrs, and man. "
Need a familiar for one of your adventuring space wizards but don't want to over power them? Use the lovely phase dragon. Need alien life forms with a twist? The Firestar, the flame wing, the giant betta, and a few others are perfect for the job. The Lillendi are a personal favorite of mine;" Lillendi are natives of Gladsheim (see DRAGON® Magazine, issue #90), though they may travel astrally to the Prime Material Plane and may also be found on the planes of Olympus or Limbo. On the material plane, they prefer to dwell in temperate or tropical woodlands. They are peaceful and delight in song and conversation, but they are by no means harmless. Those who offend lillendi may receive harsh treatment at their hands, and even blameless individuals are subject to their pranks. Lillendi are particularly hostile toward those who seek to impose civilized order on the wilderlands."

A third edition D&D illustraiton of a Lillendi
 from here 

These lovely monsters are perfect for those want a bit of that druidic AD&D flavor but on some distant plane or planet where the players are not going to expect such a being to appear. And this is one of the strengths of the Creature Catalog series.  The Dragon Dex site has a wonderful break down of the Dragon magazine series along with many others that appeared in the venerable Dragon Magazine. One of the things that I've found over the years is that one has to go just a bit further of field to deal with jaded old school players to impress them with monsters. Not simply 'monsters of the week' but monsters that help to shape a campaign & its parts & pieces. The classic Dragon magazine did this by helping to fill the gaps as a regular supplement that came to your door & newsstand. The Creature Catalog series was one of my all time favorites. Notice that I skipped the demonic Vitches and the highly dangerous great wyrms from the Creature Catalog II  because both of these will be playing a very central roll in my up coming campaign. There is very little reason why these monsters couldn't be used in many of the current retroclones on the market at this time. These are some very timeless monsters from an exceptional issue of the classic Dragon magazine.

 Note that this is a very important issue for the Marvel Super Heroes rpg DM & players for it contains a wealth of background on S.H.I.E.L.L.D. , the original Nick Fury, The Hobgoblin, and some very good articles in the Ares section. 

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