Dragon #175: A look at the doldrums of the early 1990s Dragon...

Dragon Magazine Tom Baxa TSR

Today at Art of the Genre I’ll be taking a look at Dragon #175 from November 1991. Published by James M. Ward and edited by Roger E. Moore, this probably long forgotten issue isn’t a blockbuster but it does contain a few seeds that can help players and DMs of 2nd Edition AD&D.

I certainly don’t remember it, as I was in my 2nd year of college at the time and probably well into my encore comic collecting phase during the Marvel and DC ‘gold rush’ of that period. That being said, it is nice to be able to go and look back at it today, both for the nostalgia of the contents and also the memories of that time period in my life.

Inside the pages there are four ‘Special Attractions’, Trouble in Campaign-Land that features solutions for adventure design, Inventing the Instant Adventure by Arthur Collins for improvisational DMing, The Perils of Pre-History by Gregory W Detwiler concerning dinosaurs in your worlds, and Creative Campaigns: A New Recipe by Tim Schroeder that has some nice new magic, universes, and possible history ties for your homebrew worlds.

Artistically, the magazine was art directed by Larry W. Smith and has a cover by Paul Jaquays that I’m not really a fan of which is odd because the bulk of Jaquays’s work from that period is really stellar stuff. The image is called ‘Bramble’, and is a shot of the Thorn World Sphere from the Spelljammer setting, which I dig, but the unrecognizable ship that has landed on the sphere seems both odd and lazy when considering all the outstanding ships that Spelljammer provides for reference.

Interior art features some nice color work by Lissanne Lake, Bud Root, and Michael Weaver. The trio paint strong images for the lead articles, with Weaver’s work being the most unpolished and yet potential driven.

Artist Tom Standish contributes a nice black & white illustration for the Creative Campaigns article and Tom Baxa does some nice ink work as well for the Voyage of the Princess Ark by Bruce Heard that is basically a cool way of doing a Gazetteer.

In all, the magazine delivers at a decent, if not inspiring, level of content and I’m happy I got to take a look at it again.

Artistic Rating: 3 [out of 5]

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  • David Shepheard on

    That “unrecognizable ship” is actually the Angel Ship, from pages 39-40 of SJR1 Lost Ships.

    The write-up was done by Ed Greenwood, and the cartography was done by Diesel. There is also a picture of a broken up Angel Ship on the cover, which was painted by Brom. Dell Barras did the interior illustrations of SJR1 Lost Ships, but I can’t find an Angel Ship in any of the interior illustrations.

    So odd it is, but there isn’t much that Diesel and Brom could have done with Ed Greenwood’s description of a kobold ship that looks like a winged human.

    And those ships are supposed to mostly be “Lost Ships”, that have not been seen in wildspace for centuries. I’m guessing the Angel Ships were not out in force since the First Unhuman War, as the elves kicked the Unhuman fleet out of Wildspace. So the inclusion of this “long lost ship” sitting on one of the worlds in that crystal sphere tells us that kobolds can be found there. Like with Last Descent, this Jaquays SJ picture is a snapshot from a bigger story. And like with Last Descent I’m left wanting to know more about the ship and the sphere it is in.

    As for being “lazy”, the Dragon 175 ship is actually a slight modification of Diesel’s original design. The SJR1 design had a snubbed nose ram on the front, but Dragon 175’s version has a figurehead that makes it look more like it is supposed to look like an angel. There is much more surface detail than Brom gave us and you can actually tell the difference between the top of the ship and its underside.

    It still is not my favourite Spelljammer ship, but nevertheless, this is one of my favourite paintings and I would love to have a copy of this picture on my wall one day. :-)

    BTW: You can read a discussion about this picture at the Spelljammer forum at The Piazza:

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