Dragon Issue #284

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The stench of brimstone, the sense of a massive form lying in wait in the darkness, the thunderous roar that knocks you from your feet: There’s nothing quite like a dragon! Dragon Magazine 284 soars into it’s 25th anniversary issue with more Dragon content that ever before! Learn to speak Draconic, arm yourself with antidragon items, and find out the best way to slay a dragon and live to spend the hoard. Or if you’re the DM: Find out how to make your dragons more terrifying, and learn the tactics that will keep your players reeling. Discover what it’s like to be a half-dragon, or get one of five new dragon mounts. Looking for something else? Check out our advice on how a DM can make games fun for everyone, and see how to play a character with an attribute score of 3 and not just survive, but have loads of fun!

Inside you’ll also find two new Forgotten Realms features and a CD-ROM stuffed full of D&D content:

  • Sage Advice archive
  • PC Portraits archive
  • Monster design document
  • Random dungeon generator
  • Dungeon Magazine 1
  • 2 adventures

And as always, you’ll find new advice, tools, and tactics to improve your game. So don your armor, and check out this issue to get the most from your game!

SCALE & CLAW: THE SECRET LIFE OF HALF-DRAGONS
by Stephen Kenson

Dragons are legendary creatures. Rarer still are half-dragons, the offspring of dragons and humanoid races. Born with the power of a dragon’s blood in their veins, these children are touched by a special destiny. Some might say they’re cursed with a heavy burden, for their powers and appearance set them apart from society, and their mortal blood taints them in the eyes of many dragons. But their destiny remains in their own hands, to do with as they will, if only they have the courage to take up the power that is rightfully theirs.

DRACONIAN TACTICS: MAKE YOUR DRAGONS BETTER
by Jesse Decker

Nothing typifies high adventure more than an encounter with a dragon. No other monster evokes such a powerful response from players, and no other monster demands such careful play on the part of the DM. Dragons, for all their size and magical abilities, are fearsome foes because they are smart -- adult and older dragons are smarter than most PCs. This intelligence requires that DMs use dragons judiciously, maximizing the power of a dragon’s spells and special abilities. This article outlines tactics and strategies common to each of the evil dragon species.

DRAGONTONGUE: A DRACONIC LANGUAGE PRIMER
by Owen K.C. Stephens

The language of dragons is one of the oldest forms of communication. According to the wyrms, it is second only to the languages of the outsiders, and all mortal tongues are descended from it. Its script was likely created long after its spoken form was standardized, as dragons have less need to write than other races. Some scholars believe Draconic script might have been influenced by dwarven runes, but the wise don’t express this opinion within hearing of a dragon.

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES: HOW TO DM A DRAGON
by Adam Kay

Dragons are the most potent tool in a DM’s monster arsenal. Every tavern has its favorite wyrm tale. After it is sung, the fools scoff, and cowards go looking for a new pair of pants. This article outlines some guidelines on how to use dragons to their greatest dramatic effect.

TASTE TEST: PLEASING ALL OF THE PLAYERS ALL OF THE TIME
by Robin D. Laws

Fifty years from now, when the professors of the Department of Roleplaying Studies start their standard lectures to freshman students, one of the first points they’ll make about the roleplaying game is that its devotees, in an age of increasingly mass-marketed, focus-grouped entertainment, bucked the trend and made their own stories. We were, they will say, both creator and audience at the same time.

Everything else they say will probably be blatant hoo-hah, but that basic point is one that we can take and use to improve our own games.

Where makers of megabuck motion pictures have to aim for the lowest common denominator (using the basic elements of smash-bang entertainment that will lure the maximum number of people into multiplexes), the only people you, as a DM, have to please are your players (and yourself, needless to say -- a bored DM entertains no one). While the ulcer-ridden executives of Hollywood’s loftiest towers have to run on test screenings and instinct, you have direct and regular contact with your audience. You know what your players want and can tailor your adventures to their tastes.

However, all too few DMs take advantage of the obvious resource that is the mood of the room. If you take the time to be attentive to player reactions when you run your games, you can determine which taste groups they belong to and tailor adventures for the maximum enjoyment of all.

WISE AS AN OX, STRONG AS AN OWL: PLAY TO YOUR WEAKNESS
by Brian Rogers

So there you are, happily rolling up a new character, and suddenly you’re looking at a 3. You glance up and down the table to see if anyone noticed, wondering how you can weasel out of this one. Sometimes it’s best not even to try.

Instead, make the poor score your most noticeable trait. Experience will let you raise the score eventually, and keeping it makes the character challenging and memorable. Victory comes easily to characters with no weaknesses, so experienced gamers should relish the challenge of a low score while enjoying the roleplaying opportunities it presents. Characters with every ability at 15 or higher blur together into an above-average muddle, easily replaced and soon forgotten. Heroes struggling for victory with low scores stand out in comparison, inviting tales told at the gaming convention and respect from gamers who have seen multiple-18 characters come and go without improving the players or the game. If you’re facing down a 3, these ideas might help you make a hero cut from less-than-perfect cloth.

When looking at a low ability score, remember that not every hero is remarkable for her crystalline intellect or iron muscles. Some are remembered for courage shown against the trials faced in youth, growth during adventures, or the curses they overcame. After all, triumphing over adversity is what heroes do.

PILGRIM’S TEST
by Thomas Harlan

Heartsick, Harold Godwinson stormed up a flight of narrow steps. He was desperate for fresh air. Soot-stained walls loomed over his head and hemmed in his broad shoulders. He stepped out onto a rooftop where pure white snowflakes began to settle in his long hair. He breathed deeply, filled with inexpressible relief to be out of the twisting warren of the city streets. A flat roof stretched out to his right, ending in a crumbling dome and then the side of another building.

A chill wind bit at his face. He turned east, squinting into blowing snow. The storm -- all ice and chill wind -- was completely unexpected. Judea was usually a bitterly hot, dry province, carefully designed to torment fair-skinned young men raised in the green hills of England. There will be snow on the ground in the morning, he thought, his foul mood lifting a little. And all the barren hills and mean little villages and this stinking, empty, ghost-ridden town will be hidden under a mantle of pure white.

He snorted, stepping to the low wall surrounding the roof. He had never expected to see a real winter here, not under the endless brassy sky and white-hot anvil of the Judean sun. More snow gusted across the rooftop, obscuring the view. In the distance, over a rumpled quilt of whitewashed domes, flat roofs, church spires, and limestone battlements, the golden shape of the Templum Domini, the house of God, was intermittently visible through the storm.

The sight of the Temple Mount revived his bleak anger, and the coldly superior voice of Hughes de Payen cut at his memory. Our order, whined the Frenchman in his Champagnois accent, is one of pious, dutiful knights dedicated to the protection of those holy pilgrims who come to the city of God. They are not braggarts or swaggering rogues or Saxon fools who rush in like bellowing oxen. Harold’s fists clenched, his gut roiling with furious anger. De Payen’s rejection had destroyed a carefully hoarded dream.

“You! Boy!” a voice called across the roof. The Saxon turned, hand curling reflexively around the hilt of his longsword. His expression gave the four strangers pause, their boots sliding in the slush on the roof. “You should not be here,” finished their leader.

Due to licensing restrictions, the PDF Download edition of this issue does not include Phil Foglio's What's New with Phil & Dixie or Pilgrim's Test by Thomas Harlan.

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