And now, a thing I have never seen before.

§ September 27th, 2011 § Filed under I cast magic missile § 14 Comments

…A copy of the Dungeons & Dragons-centric magazine The Dragon #1 from 1976:

We carried Dragon when it was being published, we’ve handled tons of back issues of the mag…hell, even I bought it for a short time during my brief D&D fling in junior high school. And I’ve seen some pretty early issues of the series cross my path…but never the first issue. Pretty neat, I think. It’s a bit rough, having had an unfortunate random encounter with some moisture (hopefully water) at some point in the past, causing some rippling of the pages, though it remains perfectly readable.

It’s in slightly better shape than this other item from the same collection, 1978’s The Arduin Grimoire Vol. 2: Welcome to Skull Tower:

It’s a sourcebook for an early role-playing competitor to D&D, and this particular copy’s cover is so beat and rough that it’s actually detached from the pages within. But the book remains readable, with plenty of detailed charts and elaborate descriptions of gameplay. While I’m not a game-player, I do have a peculiar fascination with reading about games, and for reading extensive rules systems like these. In fact, the temptation to hang onto this for a while instead of selling it is pretty strong. Alas, it’s gotta go!

…But not until I pull a handful of choice and somewhat out-of-context quotes from the book:

“A DM must be as heartless as one of his monsters if order is to be maintained and fun is to be had for all.”

“Once the people who play in your world realize that you mean business, they will be much more ready to act in a proper manner, and refrain from disruptive and childish temper tantrums.”

“…A man slain by an 8 dice vampire would require 8 hours to transform into one himself. Simple.”

“DICE ROLL: 81-85 HIT LOCATION: The mouth RESULTS: Tongue torn out, 10% chance of drowning in one’s own blood. Permanent coherent voice loss.”

“…For what is stranger, the alien with the blaster or the multi-tonned dragon that breathes fire? Think about it.”

Well said.

14 Responses to “And now, a thing I have never seen before.”

  • Casie says:

    The quotes, the covers, the dragon. Fantastic!! Good show Mr. Sterling!

  • ExistentialMan says:

    How is “permanent coherent voice loss” different than “permanent incoherent voice loss”? If someone tore my tongue out, I’d be pretty damn incoherent.

  • Joe S. Walker says:

    Bit of a Roger Dean influence in The Dragon’s logo.

  • William Sims says:

    I think about it ALL the time. It’s all I can think about!

  • Mike Nielsen says:

    Now the question is, what’s the first issue of Dragon Magazine worth? Is there a huge market for early D&D items?

  • Mikester says:

    Mike – There used to be a good market for early RPG stuff, but it’s been a while since I’ve delved into that realm…guess I’ll find out soon!

  • CW says:

    The market for old RPG stuff fluctuates wildly at times. Dragon #1, though, has a tendency to hold its value.

  • Tom Spurgeon says:

    I like role-playing culture way more than I ever liked role-playing, and the Arduin books are the most fun to read of the early game systems that really weren’t system but homemade spins on D&D.

    I can connect it to comics, too. One of the players in creator Dave Hargrave’s game was Rory Root.

  • Diego Ibarra says:

    “HIT LOCATION: The mouth RESULTS: Tongue torn out, 10% chance of drowning in one’s own blood. ”

    Does Geoff Johns know about this? Another ten years’ worth of comics, easy.


  • kate says:

    My brother subscribed to Dragon for awhile when we were kids, and we got someone’s old castoffs, but the earliest I’ve ever seen is like, #40 or something. So hey, wow, Dragon #1.

  • Greg G says:

    Are there monsters? Weren’t there like evil kittens in Arduin?

  • philfromgermany says:

    Before every issue was put on a CD, I saw 120 $ price tags for THE Dragon #1. Ain’t it the one with the Fritz Leiber piece in it?
    At that time there was also serious money paid for issue 100, which I guess had a great poster. Some later issues with GIANT posters (they were Size: H) or uncut trading cards are the only ones worth anything now.

  • Zachary says:

    This post led me down a dark and scary Dragon related internet worm(y)hole. Now I can’t stop thinking about Dave Trampier.

  • Dr. Freex says:

    Wow, this takes me back, I remember Dragon #1, and we have copies of Arduin around too, cribbing the occasional bit.

    Our Arduin punchline of choice, however, was based on one of the illustrations in (IIRC) Volume One: We would look at each other significantly and and entone, “The Dread VAMPUSA!!!”