RPG Magazines That Time Forgot... Dungeon #12

Dragon Magazine #12, July/August 1988
Tag line: Adventures for TSR Role-Playing Games
Makers: TSR Inc.

What is it?
Where Dragon featured role-playing articles for various games (not just AD&D), but no adventures, the bimonthly Dungeon featured nothing nothing BUT adventures, and singly for D&D and AD&D. The example issue has 5 adventures: Light of Lost Souls (AD&D 2nd-4th level), Scepter of the Underworld (AD&D 12-solo), At the Spottle Parlor (D&D 1-3), Intrigue in the Depths (AD&D 4-7) and Huddle Farm (AD&D 1-4). An index of the first 12 issues' worth of adventures is also provided.

Neat stuff
-The original art is of a high quality and diverse besides. I especially like Michael Wright's scratchy pieces for Spottle Parlor and Linda Medley's charming Hobbits for Huddle Farm (yes, Linda Medley from Doom Patrol, et al.!). The paper stock is also white and strong, which means these issues have really held up over time.
-Though many issues had higher-level adventures, the focus on mostly low-to-mid level scenarios is a welcome feature. Not only do I not have to wait a long time before I can use the material, but low-level adventures in particular are great teaching GMs how to craft engaging stories for characters who don't have many spells or hit points. Both Huddle Farm and Spottle Parlor are especially awesome in this respect, so long as you don't mind injecting comedy into your sessions (and I obviously don't!).
-Though AD&D was the product of the day, it's nice to see classic D&D get some support. I wonder how many GMs were still playing D&D AND buying an AD&D-centric magazine. Perhaps like me, they simply converted one to the other (except I only had to convert the odd classic scenario into Advanced). There are no Oriental Adventures in this issue, but that too got an adventure here and there.
-There is a little non-adventure material in this issue, including a letters page (that debates the worth of long versus short adventures) and a humor article entitled How to Fail as a Writer Without Hardly Trying.

Bad stuff
-When I buy a magazine that promises adventures I can insert in my games, I find a "flip to such-and-such a number" solo adventures are wasted pages. I don't want to be the hero of my own adventure(TM), I've got a party to cater to.
-Dragon catered to other games - TSR did, after all, also publish Top Secret, Marvel Super Heroes, Gamma World, Star Frontiers, and others - but Dungeon never did. I think a scenario for those less well-supported games could have gone a long way making them as viable as AD&D back in the 80s.
-Don't let your players see this one's cover. It spoils one adventure's solution.

"The toad eats Vansin's first die."
How I've used it
I've used Dungeon adventures here and there, either in my own AD&D/some other fantasy system games, or in Dream Park for the more unusual ones. From this issue, I have vague memories of doing Huddle Farm's hobbit encounters (and may use them in an Evernight prequel at some point in the future) and maybe Light of Lost Souls' battle with undead. The clear winner, however, in At the Spottle Parlor, a humorous D&D adventure built around a special dice game that uses a dice-eating toad. There are fun characters around the table, great for getting into various voices, and the game of Spottle itself is fun. I've used the adventure exactly twice, and would do so again. The first was in AD&D (easily converted upwards) and the second in Dream Park (for which I became past master at converting from other games). In both cases, a riotous good time was had.

In conclusion
Though pretty exclusive to AD&D, Dungeon nonetheless managed to feature a lot of variety in level, tone, opponent types, terrain and theme. Some issues have offered, for example, sequels to epic storylines, allowing you to better interconnect adventured culled from the magazine's pages. There are many dungeons, but also wilderness expeditions. In general, I find Dungeon's output to be about the same quality as adventures offered in TSR's more official products, specifically adventure collections like Planescape's Well of Worlds (to name one off the top of my head). If you're into AD&D or can easily convert to 3rd/4th edition, you could do worse than track down these issues.



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