Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: The Strategic Review #3 Autumn 1975

The Strategic Review #3 Autumn 1975

(8 Page Zine)

A lot of history to start this issue; Chainmail and D&D being slammed, and Gygax slamming back.

D&D and Gygax won.

The D&D content of this issue focuses on new monsters. Nine new creatures for the game, most would become well used classic additions. The Yeti, Shambling Mound, Shrieker, Piercer, Lurker Above, Naga and Ghost. The Leprechaun and Wind Walker seemed to be least used in my own experience.

The Yeti, Ghost, Leprechaun, Lurker Above, Naga, Shrieker, and Wind Walker all have stats and descriptions very close to their later incarnation in the AD&D Monster Manual, though no illustration accompanied any of the monsters appearing in this issue.

Only the Piercer and Shambling appear to be greatly changed. Anyone putting together an original D&D campaign will find this issue very welcome for the introduction of these monsters alone. They tend toward the powerful, some 10HD monsters included here, while a few are low HD but can fit into any level of the game. The Shrieker acting as a warning to other creatures, the Leprechaun a supreme annoyance, the Piercer deadly in great numbers. Even the Yeti as a 4HD monster can be effective against more powerful characters with its near invisibility and paralyzing gaze.

A humorous article follows. Roughly D&D it always seemed a waste to me to take up space with joke articles, but maybe it can add some inspiration for DMs looking to lighten their campaign. A taste of Zagyg style insanity for a level of his dungeon perhaps? (I'd much rather have had the space used for illustrations or more monsters).

Personally I place poetry in the same boat with humor most of the time. The Unicorn Song is easy to glance over and dismiss, but I've always liked inflicting bards on my players, or if a player runs a bard then part of their burden is the use of poetry in the game. If they have no ideas of their own I never hesitate to supply them with such ditties as the Unicorn Song to stand and read to the other players.

D&D history rears its head again in the Mapping the Dungeon column, but rather than just a description of DMs and upcoming conventions, a mix of world war II and D&D is mentioned, related by Dave Arneson. Nothing like fighting Nazi's in a D&D campaign. I don't remember if they ever did publish the conversion rules for relatively modern historical time periods to D&D or not, or if they ever worked the bugs out, but it is something an adventurous DM should give a try.

Finally Jim Ward offers a description and city generation for a Burroughs style Barsoom campaign in his article Deserted Cities of Mars. This is a non-game system specific set of tables with descriptions sifted from the John Carter series. It can easily be adapted for use to generate a ruined city with an alien flavor for any campaign.

SR is not just a D&D magazine, and with only 8 pages all articles and information is fairly compressed, but a great deal was put into each small issue. There are ideas here useful to players running AD&D campaigns today, and invaluable additions to someone putting together an original campaign.

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