Dragon #89: Deep in the heart of the 'Golden Age'
Now, I think each of you know that Dragon Magazine had certain ‘ages’, meaning that there are plateaus of greatness involved in the magazine. First and foremost, you had the inception issues, the first two dozen that helped define a budding RPG industry, and afterward, from issue 25-100, you had what could arguably be considered the Golden Age of Dragon, where the magazine was nearing the pinnacle of everything it could be and TSR ruled over the RPG universe.
Today’s issue hits within the wheelhouse of the Golden Age, as Dragon #89 is an absolute masterwork. I mean, if you know RPGs or art, just listen to the hit list that went into its creation. Editor-in-Chief: Kim Mohan, Editorial Staff: Roger Raupp, Roger Moore, Contributing Editors: Ed Greenwood, Katherine Kurr, and Ken Rolston, Contributing Artists: Denis Beauvais, Roger Raupp, David Sutherland III, David ‘Diesel’ LaForce, Jim Holloway, Keith Parkinson, Larry Elmore, and Dave Trampier…
I mean really, give me a break! This is just stupid good, and I take great pleasure in bringing you the slightest glimpse of what this issue has to offer.
First and foremost, there is the ‘chess’ cover by Denis Beauvais. If any gamer from this era didn’t pick a ‘chess’ cover as one of their Top 5 Dragon covers, I’d revoke their RPGA card immediately. Simply put, Den’s covers in this series are some of the greatest works of RPG fantasy ever created, and if you argue that, then your comments aren’t worth a rebuttal.
Inside this cover, the content begins with a most intriguing article on fantasy population growth by Stephen Inniss called ‘Survival is a group effort’, then we are brought ‘Six very special shields’ by Ed Greenwood who is writing here as Elminster. Then, Lenard Lakofka [of L module series fame] brings us the ‘Gods of the Suel pantheon’ with great artwork by Roger Raupp. We are also brought the NPC Sentinel class [that I’ve actually used before and they are really cool!] in ‘Halt! Who goes there?’
Top Secret also gets a shout out with Mike Beeman’s ‘Beefing up the bureaus’ which give agents separate specialized skills.
And if this isn’t enough, the issue contains a Creature Catalog with 29 fully illustrated new monsters!
For all you OD&D DMs out there, Roger Moore pens a nice piece titled ‘What is a monster worth?’ that helps spell out the system for assigning x.p. values which is always time consuming and the most unfriendly of the DMs tasks.
Artistically, Jim Holloway illustrates the Troy Denning [of Star Wars fame] story in both b/w and an incredible color piece, and Elmore goes ‘shooting’ with the Ares cover that features some Star Frontiers goodness.
In all, September 1984 was a darn fine month for gamers when they received this issue in the mail or picked it up at the local gaming shop.
Artistic Rating: 4.5 [out of 5]