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Dragon – September 2005

August 29, 2005

The first thing that catches my eye as I flip through this issue of Dragon is the ad for Iron Heroes, another Monte Cook alternate D&D setting. Some very intriguing ideas in the blurb text. I’ve learned since we got back that they were running Iron Heroes demos at Gen Con, and I lament the missed opportunity to check it out first hand.

This month’s issue ties in with the release of the “City of Splendors” Waterdeep supplement for FR. A great article, “Waterdeep: Splendor of the City”, covers the history of the greatest city in the realms from a real world perspective. The article chronicles the existence of the city since it saw print in the Waterdeep and the North module, through the Volo Guide and up through the modern game supplement. While I have mixed feelings on the recent book release, this is a great article that gives a great sense of the history that both the realms and Waterdeep now have.

“New Olamn Bard College” expands on an organization introduced in the Waterdeep book. A bard-centric organization that is quickly gaining in popularity and influence, the group is a blending of the Harpers and the espionage-oriented offshoot the Tel’Teukiira. The article fleshes out the role of the college in Waterdeep, and gives some background to the schism between the Blackstaff and the Harpers. The article has all sorts of little life details, bits that I felt were sorely missed from the Waterdeep book. The college, for example, maintains plinths around the city with information about performances and social events. These plinths make for not only good local color, but would be a convenient way to hook an adventuring group.

To extend the sense of history even further, an interview with Ed Greenwood is the next entry in the magazine. “Volo’s Guide to the Master of the Forgotten Realms” is a relatively unannoying discussion with Ed about the history of the setting he crafted lo these many years ago. Aside from general enjoyment of Ed’s fairly laid-back way of speaking, I was saddened to hear that the Crazed Venturers are rarely getting together anymore. Considering we owe them much for the offwhite tomes we now get to read, it’s a shame that real life has a tendency to occupy the intelligent and talented so.

Fiction rears its head in Dragon again, an FR short story by Elaine Cunningham entitled “Game of Chance”. Normally I don’t read fiction in Dragon, but my self-appointed role as summarizer forced my hand. I’m glad I did. It’s a tight story with a surprising amount of movement for the number of pages it takes up.

I really like the “Ecology of…” articles that grace every issue nowadays. They not only provide interesting background for DMs, they provide some crunchy technical bits for running the critters in a campaign. Lizardfolk are the focus of this article, tying in to the Lizardfolk-centric adventure in this month’s Dungeon. Speaking of Dungeon, Wormfood this month is umm..sort of underwhelming. I don’t want to bag on them for going the easy route, but they posted three characters from their beta test campaign under the guise of providing cohorts.

After that, there is an article that breaks my mind. Entitled “The Charlatan”, it is apparently a prestige class that won a contest Dragon was running a while back. It’s crap. Utter crap. For some reason, someone thought that it would be “fun” to have a prestige class where you can pretend to be a powerful wizard. oooooooo. Idiots.

“Swamp Swag” is the Bazaar of the Bizarre this month, another tie-in to the Dungeon for this month. All the magic bits are lizardfolk-made tools for surviving the swamps. The theme is getting a little thin at this point…though, the undead fish that transforms a corpse into a lacedon for you is kind of cool.

That’s about it, excepting the Class Acts one pagers. They’re more impressive than normal this month, as a little blurb explains they’re going to get WotC R&D folks to participate in the near future. Sounds like a plan.

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