Monday, July 9, 2018

The Dragon Magazine #15 1978 David A. Trampier Cover & 2nd Birthday Present

"Hot Fun in The Summertime!" Hope the rest of you are enjoying this heat! Summer vacation from school meant all night D&D sessions, swimming, riding our BMX bikes....good times!
I'm a member of a Facebook group..."David A. Trampier Fans"....you should be too! https://www.facebook.com/groups/200157420067/
A member posted a pic of an old Dragon (actually THE Dragon back then!) magazine....#15 to be precise. It's the only time our man Tramp did the cover....and it's a beaut! 
I read somewhere online that its Cu' Chulainn & his loyal charioteer Laeg! I bought this with the intent of framing it! Knocked out by the fact that the magazine is from June of '78...just think: Van Halen I was 4 months old at this point!
Look at this lineup of TSR Immortals! The Mighty Gygax, Lords Kask & Orlowski! And that "Art Department"! Sutherland, Wham & TRAMP! Never got any better than that...as far as I'm concerned!
 "From The Sorcerer's Scroll"....and straight to you! Had to be incredible to have the man himself available for insight into the game we all love!
"Finieous Fingers" cartoon....way before I started reading The Dragon! Very light hearted & funny! Seems totally "1970's" to me....in the best possible way!
1 panel cartoon of "Wormy"....which sets up the surprise of this mag...The "2nd Birthday Present" included in this issue! I had no idea...until I did a little research on #15 on the interwebs....seems TRAMP drew a backgammon table (you see Wormy's gold spilling out onto it!) that was included as a centerfold poster!
Once I learned this...I fired off private messages to the individuals who had this issue for sale...1 guy said...."Yeah, it still has the centerfold stapled in it. It's so old I don't want to open it for fear of it tearing."
Long story short....
 I really feel like I hit the "jackpot" today!
Excelsior!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

In Search of the Unknown: Down the rabbit hole & into the World of D&D

"In Search of the Unknown"...the intro D&D module where so many began their RPG careers...everybody give a big "Huzzah!" to Mr. Mike Carr for his work! Let's jump right in....
     I know I'm jumping over the "A" series of modules...and ISOTU is not the 1st module I ever played...but I thought it was a good place to start regardless. Published in 1978...for the BASIC set of rules...and the novice player.
     I purchased my Repop version from DriveThruRpg...reproduced from a scanned copy of the module....I'll point out the differences soon enough...nice option if you don't want to pay top dollar for a battle worn copy!
    Nice cover art!

     What jumps right out at you is that it is a collaboration between David C. Sutherland III & David A. Trampier....something I don't ever recall seeing before or after this module! I have to say I do not share the D&D creators love of the Fungi...as a hostile force, anyway!
     The rest of the art is by DCS on his own....and some damn fine art it is!
    The old "Bending Bars" trick...fully illustrated for the novice...hopefully we got the idea!

 The old "collapsing floor" trap....got 'em again!



And then some of (in my humble opinion) DCS's best work...The Wizard battling the Giant Spider...
                                                 And the battle against the Mummies!!!
I love how the thieves are always looting behind the fighters backs! 
Another DCS drawing...with a lot going on in it!
A party starting off on an adventure...with a knight on horseback off to the side...a castle beyond the knight. Pixies in the tree & in the brush...I like the door to the tree...as well as the window! The Pixie in the tree is smoking a pipe! This bunch isn't very observant..which doesn't bode well for their chance of survival!
As noted...this "THE' basic module...and is geared for the novice player & DM...with plenty of tips aimed at steering the 1st time players in the right direction!
Nice bunch of "Wandering Monsters" too...just the type of fiends that a novice group should tussle with!
Now for the differences with the repop module...where the original modules had the dungeon maps in the inside covers...the repops have them on the printed page at the end of the module.

A very cool feature of purchasing the DTRPG modules is that you can get the printed book along with the PDF version...so you can then print these maps as many times as you want without detaching them! 
I purchased this module without ever having seen it before, much less played it or DM'd the thing! Seems like a very cool dungeon...tons of room for expansion by the DM.
TSR started off right with this module...I'll look at "The Keep on the Borderlands" next...the 1st module I ever adventured in!
And for those interested....check out http://www.drivethrurpg.com/
They don't have everything by TSR....but they do have a bunch of the old material!
Excelsior!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Holy Divers & Magic Swords: Basic & Expert Rules for D&D in the 80's

Back again, fellow Grognards, for another installment of the Dungeoneers Syndicate. Cue up that Dio cd...light some incense...and off we go.
     I mention the late great Ronnie James because his work with Sabbath & solo career were both flying high around the time I was getting into D&D. "Holy Diver" & "Heaven & Hell" both stick in my head as a soundtrack to many of our gaming sessions.
     So lets check out the Basic & Expert D&D rule books this week...when I started playing the AD&D hardcover books were all published...these new additions were purchased at the same time as AD&D....and were integrated into our campaign as one game....
     The Original "Red Book"...the "Moldvay Basic" rulebook. Edited by Tom Moldvay...this was TSR's attempt to make D&D more accessible to a younger audience....and it worked! Like the older "Holmes Basic Book" it only covered up to 3rd level for characters...but there would be more to come! Awesome cover art by Erol Otus!
    
I bought this copy of Ebay a couple of years ago...1st printing! A bit beat up but still a copy in great condition considering its age...kinda like me!

Starts us off with a great drawing by Bill Willingham...one of the "Big 3" of early D&D art!

Nice intro by Tom Moldvay & a great list of thanks...check out Ernie Gygax & Jim Ward getting their props!


2 very cool works by David S LaForce....always liked the Gal & Guy dreaming up their characters!



Always cracks me up to see "Dwarves & Elves" listed as "classes"....OLD SCHOOL!

The great Erol Otus....great looking weapons! Probably influenced our weapon choice as much as the movie "The Sword & The Sorcerer" did! Rules were open ended enough to still allow for expansion...we started making our own spells & magic items with these rules! All sorts of magical swords were being produced!
Nice reproduction of a Character sheet...we laid out our characters just like this example...didn't get the actual sheets until much later in our careers!
A buxom warrior thanks to the brilliant Jeff Dee!
I always loved Otus' sense of humor....the coins leaking out of the fighters cloth sack...as an example of "Encumberance"!
Very well done drawing showing the various "breath weapon" shapes of various Dragons...just what a young DM needed to him him visualize!
My favorite drawing in the book! These 3 remind me of the Wizards in "Wizard City" in the cartoon ADVENTURE TIME! Dig how Otus has his name on the bottle of magical potion!

                         " In shadow, we find the light,
Safely sealed in darkest night.
So make sure y'all keep it tight.
Wizards only, fools!"
And lastly a nice sample dungeon! I always liked it when the gave a "underground" view...just to give the aspiring DM an idea how levels should (or at least could) stack on one another!



And on to the Expert Rules!
The 2nd "Blue Book"...edited by David Cook & Steve Marsh! Erol Otus delivers another classic cover...which continues where the Basic cover began!

Another Ebay purchase & another 1st printing! Score one for the home team!

This one starts off like the Basic....with a fantastic drawing by Bill Willingham! How TSR ever let this guy go is still amazing to me...all these decades later! 
Expert rules really expanded the limits for the novice D&D player...up to 14th level for some classes & Higher level spells! I remember using these books when we had "new" players joining our games...so they didn't have to try and jump right into the Players Handbook! Simplified rules which let us get right into the dungeon crawl!
Halflings were still a "class"...& Jeff Dee gave us a great drawing of 2 Halflings in a conversation with a human fighter! That male halfling doesn't look to sure of the guy!
Here's a cool drawing of a fighter & a Gargoyle...by the underused Wade Hampton!
Three very helpful drawings demonstrating spells..."Disintegrate, Wizard Eye & Pass Wall"...by Otus & Dee!


 I've always believed that one of the greatest assets that D&D had was the numerous drawings demonstrating either spells...or monsters...or just about any concept they were presenting! They lack of art in other game systems really hurt 'em....in my humble opinion!
Modes of transportation, for example, get their own drawings...as much because they looked so cool as well as being helpful!

You want to see what an NPC (Non Player Character...for the non- D&D audience) Alchemist looks like? No problem! Erol Otus hides his name on a book in this one!
How about some mercenaries? I know I used the guy on the right as a blueprint for my own drawings of fighters! Jeff Dee gives him a Norse kinda look to me!
The Expert book has a bunch of Bill Willingham's work in it...and its all CLASSIC!



Iconic stuff to the Old School D&D crowd!
A small map of the "Grand Duchy of Karameikos" is included....for those wanting to get into the 'Mystara" campaign setting!
 Nice starter dungeon as well! Off we went into the "Gnome Lair"!

The Basic & Expert rules were intended for a younger audience than AD&D....simplified rules & less background info....we used these books with AD&D....made for a great fantasy world! Hope you guys liked looking back again!
'Till next time....

"Wizards Rule!"