Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Draconic Archeologist: Catching Up - Strategic Review #4 & #5

I'm a bit behind, so today we will start with a Double Feature – Issues 4 and 5 of Strategic Review are up for viewing with my OSR / D&D Goggles.  Let's see what useful stuff Gary gives us, shall we?

Hmmm... it looks like Greg Costikyan planned to publish a D&D fanzine.  I wonder if that ever got off the ground.  He even asked TSR's approval before starting and got a thumbs up.  Whoda' thunk it?

Gary's Castle & Crusade column features a few more pole arms.  It's a nice history lesson, but how many do you really need for the game?

Hey, look... over there!  See it?  No?  He must be invisible cause he's the first Illusionist.  Yes, the first view of the Illusionist class.  Remember: "Although severely limited in the number of magical items they can employ, Illusionists make up for this restriction by the power of their magic."  That's why it's always been such a popular class... so much more powerful then Magic-users.

For the fans of Empire of the Petal Throne, M.A.R. Barker has a three page article called Tsolyani Names Without Tears.  It so you can create authentic sounding Tsolyani names.  Oh, and a chart for the new alphabet.  If you are an EPT fan, this probably rocks.  If you are not...

The Creature Feature introduces the Clay Golem.

Might Magic Miscelleny (spell check says it should be Miscellany) gives us "Ioun" Stones.  Pretty cool background on these: "Seeing that we offer so many new monsters herein we thought it only fair to occasionally include unusual, extraordinary, and useful new magical goodies also. FLASHING SWORDS! #1 (Dell, 1973) contained four excellent swords & sorceryyarns, including “Morreion” by Jack Vance. In this tale there was a magical item of highly unusual value — IOUN stones. Mr. Vance was kind enough to allow us to enlarge somewhat upon his creations and list them as a D&D “Miscellaneous Magic” item."

Thus ends SR #4 for our purposes.  Let us move on to SR#5.

Ah, yes, Finally an issue with a proper cover.  It might be a wizard in a goofy hat, but its a cool looking wizard in a goofy hat.

We start with some short autobiographies of the major players at TSR: EGG, Brian Blume, Robert Kuntz, Theron Kuntz and Tim Kask.  Interesting stuff.

Sturmgeshutz and Sorcery is a mashup of WW2 wargaming and D&D.  This is set up where neither side initially  knew there was a cross-genre encounter going on.

Just to give a peek, I'm going to give you the background that the SS and D&D sides were given:

SS side: "There has been unusual resistance activity in this area, and in the last few days a squad of Security troops were wiped out in a battle with them. Only one old man, bearded, and with no weapons, was found at the scene of the battle. From his dress and general appearance it would seem that he was a Russian clergyman — probably there to incite the troops to greater bravery as the Communist commissars have failed in this respect."

D&D side: "Your able lieutenants Grustiven the Warlock and the Lama Goocz have failed to return from an exploration of an area of unusual nature — just west of your castle a thick fog sprang up and has been obscuring vision since then. Dispell Magic failed to affect the area, and your henchmen were ordered to investigate, for it is possible that some Lawful enemy is at work, using the mist to screen gathering troops. Unfortunately, your strongest fighters and 200 orcs are elsewhere warring with a Neutral Lord who insulted you, so you will have to make do with the forces on hand. An orc detailed to patrol the edge of the fog area has just reported that unusual sounds have been issuing from the area — he  described them as: “low growls, the clanking of chains, and a deep humming,” but who can trust a stupid orc?"

I could see this scenario as a blast to play out.  D&D didn't go far from it's war-gaming roots.

Mighty Magic Miscellany (they corrected it!) gives us the Robe of Scintillating Color and Prayer Beads.

The Creature Feature gives us first looks and future classics: Rakshasa, The Slithering Tracker and The Trapper.


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