Dress for the job you want (ad in Dragon 66, October 1982)
Dragon Magazine 196 cover by Scott Burdick
Jeff Easely, ''Dragon Magazine'', #260, June 1999
Dragon Magazine #89 (1984)
Cover by Denis Beauvais
“Bat” by Alexander Dudar, © Plarium Games. Accessed at ArtStation here
[We move now to Creature Catalog 3, from Dragon Magazine 101. With sixteen different authors for 24 different monsters, this is as large and as varied as the feature ever got. In the original, the avari was an outsider that hated the daemons. The implication, unsaid, was that they were one of the original inhabitants of Gehenna that were displaced when the daemons moved there from Hades. That’s interesting, but not in Pathfinder cosmology, and buffed up bats fighting the aspects of death itself seemed like a bit of a mismatch. So I moved them to the Material Plane and gave them a rivalry with the daemon-serving urdefhans instead--a single avari can destroy a basic urdefhan, but the urdefhans are better organized, more numerous, and often have class levels. I also threw in a few references to some of the many, many bat monsters that I have statted on the Codex already.]
CR 7 NE Monstrous Humanoid
This creature resembles a great humanoid bat the size of a man. Its skin is a mottled greenish brown, and clawed hands grow from its wings.
Avari are bat-like horrors who carve out cruel fiefdoms in the Darklands. Avari society is carved out around family lines, with each having granted themselves titles and authority that may be recognized by none but other avari. These families often bicker and scheme among themselves, but present a unified front against external threats. The avari once ruled wide spans of territory, enforcing their will with mobat servitors, but lost a war with the urdefhans and have been pushed to the margins. The avari nurse this grudge deeply, and seek to kill urdefhans whenever possible. They may enlist adventurers to do the dirty work for them, bullying them into acting as catspaws. They covet treasure, especially gold.
In combat, an avari strikes with its jaws and wing claws. Its saliva contains a neurotoxin that causes no permanent damage but leaves victims in excruciating pain. They maintain a trace of their former authority over mobats and other bat-like creatures, capable of summoning them and manipulating their minds. An avari can release a stunning screech, but often hold this ability in reserve in order to affect a getaway if they are outmatched in combat.
Avari are slavers and carnivores, using the threat of eating truculent slaves to keep the others in line. Because of their ability to control bat-like creatures, avari are feared and despised by chiropteran humanoids like desmodu. Bainligors and chiromin may end up in an avari’s service, where they are given special treatment over more humanoid slaves, but still treated as minions and not allies. The avari are not particularly religious, seeing supplication to a divine force as a sign of weakness. Urdefhans and their obedience to the Four Horsemen are especially despised. Those few avari who advance in divine casting do so as druids, viewing themselves as an extension of natural forces of air, earth and darkness.
Avari CR 7
NE Medium monstrous humanoid
Init +3; Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 120 ft., Perception +17
AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural)
hp 85 (9d10+36)
Fort +7, Ref +10, Will +10
DR 10/magic; Immune acid, pain, paralysis, poison, sonic; Resist cold 10, electricity 10; SR 18
Speed 20 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee bite +14 (1d12+4 plus agonize), 2 claws +13 (1d6+4)
Special Attacks screech
Spell-like Abilities CL 9th, concentration +12
3/day—charm monster (bats and bat-like creatures only, DC 17)
1/day—summon (4th level, 2 mobats, 100%)
Str 18, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 15, Wis 17, Cha 16
Base Atk +9; CMB +13; CMD 27
Feats Alertness, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Flyby Attack, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Fly +15, Handle Animal +12, Intimidate +15, Perception +17, Sense Motive +17, Stealth +15
Languages Abyssal, Undercommon, telepathy 100 ft.
Organization solitary, pair or family (3-6)
Agonize (Ex) A creature bitten by an avari must succeed a DC 18 Fortitude save or be wracked with pain for 4d4 rounds. During this time, the creature takes a -2 penalty to AC, attack rolls, melee damage rolls and Reflex saves, and must succeed a DC 18 concentration check in order to cast a spell. This is a poison, pain effect, and the save DC is Constitution based.
Screech (Su) Once per day as a standard action, an avari may screech. All creatures in the area except for mobats must succeed a DC 18 Fortitude save or be stunned for 1d3 rounds. This is a sonic, mind-influencing effect.
I mentioned back in the fall that I was going to drop the weekend reprints this year. Prepping them is sort of a pain, especially when you can just, you know, go scroll back and the originals are still there. Did I mention there are nearly five years worth of posts back there? Holy wow!
Anyway, I am replacing the weekend reprints with Dragon Magazines. I am never going to get through all my Dragons otherwise. Here’s the thing: I’m just posting the covers, in chronological order. There’s going to be duplicates of previous posts, no doubt. Captions are going to be brief. I kind of just want the decades of RPG history to sort of wash over y’all, two installments at a time, week after week. When I mentioned this in my stories a few months back, someone messaged me that they thought that was cool, like flipping through familiar records at a record store. I liked that idea.
Anyway, on with the show. This is The Dragon 11 (December, 1977). Cover art is by Elrohir (nom de plume of Kenneth Rahman). It’s the earliest issue I own.
The Dragon, issue 25, features a scorching take down of Ralph Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings”, types of vampires, and some revisions to Gamma World.
'The Lost Note' by Gerald Brom.
Cover art for 'Dragon Magazine' issue #253, published November 1998.
Elminster and his Pipe
Art by Tom Fowler from ‘A Dark and Stormy Knight: Another Evening with the Wizards Three’ (Dragon Magazine #344, June 2006)
Dragon Magazine #173 Cover Art by Brom (Dark Sun)
Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead (a very early Todd Lockwood illustration that ran in Dragon 42, October 1980, introducing the special Halloween feature) This is still available as a print directly from the artist’s webpage (edit: site currently down)
Shadows Across the Big Easy, for Shadowrun (1st Edition), from White Wolf Magazine. Prelude.
Some periodical history.
White Wolf Magazine was a gaming magazine (TTRPGs, CRPGs, CCGs, PbMs, etc.) that was published from 1986 until 1995, started by brothers Stewart and Stephan Wieck. White Wolf Publishing, their company, would merge with another company, Lion Rampant (founders Jonathan Tweet & Mark Rein·Hagen, editor Lisa Stevens), in 1991.
If those names are familiar, it is because they are Major Fragging Players in RPG publishing.
Jonathan Tweet was one of the primary designers of D&D 3rd Edition, Lisa Stevens would go on to form Paizo (of Pathfinder fame), and Rein·Hagen & the Wiecks are behind the immensely popular World of Darkness setting, with Vampire: The Masquerade being published in 1991.
Other TTRPGs have always stood in the shadow of D&D, and the same holds true for periodicals. TSR launched the monthly Dragon magazine in 1976, focused on all things D&D, with Dungeon starting 10 years later, printing shorter adventures. Later, I came to value the latter way more than the former. But both were, at their core, house organs. They primarily supported TSR publications (primarily D&D, but also with some Top Secret: SI and Marvel RPG content), and maybe gave the occasional shout out to some other game system.
Issue #203, March 1994, with cover art by Timothy Bradstreet.
Five years after Shadowrun was first published.
There were other magazines out there. Eventually.
White Dwarf was a UK magazine published by Games Workshop that started by covering wargames and TTPRGs but eventually focused solely on Warhammer.
Shadis, started by Knights of the Dinner Table author Jolly Blackburn, was another independent RPG magazine that always kept its independence, which meant it never got the wide readership it deserved. Shadis fragging rocked.
Then, back to the topic at hand, we have White Wolf, which started off like Shadis in covering all TTRPGs that weren’t D&D, but as the 90s bloomed and the World of Darkness exploded, gradually became their version of Dragon.
In 1994, it rebranded as Inphobia, in which yours truly has a published letter to the editor, but folded in less than a year (so I’m sorry for killing the magazine). With the emergence of the WWW, print media took a hit. Dragon, due to the continued popularity of D&D, lasted through 3rd edition and eventually went online only in 2007.
Shadows Across the Big Easy, by C.R. Shaver & Jason Rush, a five-part 1st Edition Shadowrun series premiered in White Wolf Magazine #31 (May/June 1992). The series includes:
City information about New Orleans in 2050
Magic rules for Voodoo
A pair of adventures set in the Big Easy
Get your gumbo ready.
Dragon, cover by Denis Beauvais
‘Monstruos en la Sagrada familia’, ''Dragon Magazine'', #3, 1992
Tohru Chan? 🤔 Kaho Chan? 🤔🤔 Tohru Chan and Kaho Chan decided to try each others maid dresses 😍😍😍😍 They both look sooooo pretty (´∩｡• ᵕ •｡∩`)
Tell me who would you like to be your personal maid 🥰
Image by Bob Maurras, © TSR, Inc.
[Another Ed Greenwood critter from the first “Creature Catalogue” feature. Ed Greenwood wrote a lot of monsters in the 1e era, and I kind of get why relatively few of them went onto be D&D staples (the exception is the dark naga, incidentally). Most of them are terrible glass cannons, with powerful abilities but very low Hit Dice. Like the cantobele here, which in 1e has 8 attacks a round but 2-4 HD! So it’s either going to annihilate an entire low level party, or be taken out in a round by a high level one. My version brings the HD up to match the damage output, and ends up being a pretty robust foe. There is a 2e version, in the Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix. It has the same balance problem but, unusually, says that the male bears the young. That inspired the marsupial/seahorse reproductive system mentioned in my flavor text.]
CR 10 NE Magical Beast
This creature is slung low to the ground, with six muscular legs ending in clawed paws. Its tail is broad and ends in a brush. Its head is like that of a hyena, except that it has two tusk-like fangs in its upper jaw, and a coarse mane of hair runs along its crown and neck.
Cantobeles are so named for their chiming, sing-song voices. They are excellent vocal mimics, using a combination of mind-reading, mimicry and magical charm to lure creatures to their deaths. The claws on all six of their legs are small but deadly sharp, and they pounce on befuddled prey and tear them to pieces. Any survivors are knocked prone and killed while on the ground. Cantobeles are comfortable moving in three dimensions, and often attack from higher ground such as up trees or cliffs.
Cantobeles are most comfortable in snowy forests such as the taiga. They are impervious to the cold, and can call down magical clouds of hail to obscure vision and dissuade pursuers if they are outmatched. Most cantobeles are solitary, but they do come together to mate. The mated couple will associate until the birth of the (usually single) young, which is reared by the male in a pouch somewhat like that of a kangaroo. Male cantobeles can lactate, and feed their young on milk and blood until the infant is strong enough for solid food.
With their hyena like aspect and magical luring voices, cantobeles are believed to be kin to leucrottas. The two species rarely if ever interact in the wild, but when they do, the stronger cantobeles tend to kill and eat the leucrottas. Unlike leucrottas, cantobeles have little patience for long-term manipulations and do not seek to rule tribes of humanoids.
Cantobele CR 10
NE Large magical beast
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., Perception +17, snow sight
Aura detect thoughts (60 ft., Will DC 19)
AC 22, touch 13, flat-footed 19 (-1 size, +4 Dex, +9 natural)
hp 136 (13d10+75)
Fort +13, Ref +12, Will +9
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee bite +16 (1d8+4), 4 claws +16 (1d4+4), tail slap +14 (1d6+2 plus trip)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks detect thoughts (DC 19), lure, pounce, rake (2 claws +16, 1d4+4)
Spell-like Abilities CL 13th, concentration +16
3/day—empowered ice storm, misdirection (DC 15)
Str 18, Dex 19, Con 20, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +13; CMB +19 (+21 trip); CMD 33 (43 vs. trip)
Feats Combat Expertise, Empower SLA (ice storm), Improved Trip, Iron Will, Multiattack, Nimble Moves, Skill Focus (Bluff)
Skills Bluff +20, Climb +30, Perception +17, Stealth +14; Racial Modifiers +16 Climb
Languages Common, Infernal, tongues
SQ expert climber, sound mimicry (bells, voices)
Environment cold and temperate forests
Organization solitary or pair
Aura of Detect Thoughts (Su) A cantobele can read the minds of all creatures within 60 feet, as per a detect thoughts spell, if the creature fails a DC 19 Will save.
Expert Climber (Ex) A cantobele can scale sheer surfaces and ceilings as if under a spider climb effect. It gains a +16 racial bonus to Climb checks, instead of the +8 usually afforded by a Climb speed.
Lure (Su) At any point that a cantobele’s targets are unaware of it (for example, if the cantobele is hiding or concealed in darkness), the cantobele can call out to the targets, who must be in line of sight and within 60 feet. When the cantobele calls out, the targets must make a DC 16 Will save or fall under the effects of a suggestion to approach the sound of the cantobele's voice. This effect functions identically to a mass suggestion spell with a caster level equal to the cantobele's Hit Dice. A creature that saves cannot be affected again by the same cantobele's lure for 24 hours. The lure is a language-dependent effect, and if the cantobele uses the victim's name during the lure, the victim takes a –4 penalty on its saving throw. This is a sonic mind-affecting charm effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Rake (Ex) A cantobele may use its rake attack against prone enemies in an adjacent square, in addition to when charging or grappling.
Snow Sight (Ex) A cantobele’s vision is not obscured by mundane or magical snow, fog or other weather.
The Dragon 14 (May, 1978). The cover is by Steve Oliff, who went on to be a successful comic artist and digital coloring pioneer, probably best know for coloring the Epic Comics version of Akira. Obviously, I don’t own issues 12 or 13, but from here on it is a straight run to the 280s (circa 2001). Strap in!
The Dragon, issue 21, 1978. Still pretty light on interior art, this issue features very early cover art by Jennell Jaquays, articles on the Dungeon! board game, a diy module, and an article about spicing up flavourless monsters.
'Saving The Best For Last' by Daniel Horne.
Cover art for 'Dragon Magazine' issue #126, published October 1987 by TSR.