From the editor-in-chief's description of the issue:
The awesome task of digging (yes, sometimes literally) our way through scores of hefty manuscripts is over. The hours upon hours spent poring over page after page have finally produced results. It is with a great sigh of relief and a similarly large fanfare (taaa - daaa!) that we present The Garden of Nefaron, the winning entry of International Dungeon Design Contest II.
If you got the idea from the above paragraph that it was more than a bit of work going through all the entries, then I guess I got the point across. That point is made, not to make you feel sorry for us (after all, nobody told us to have the contest), but in apology for the fact that it took so long to come up with a winner.
As might have been expected, the overall quality of the entries took a distinct step up from the previous contest. What was not expected was the great increase in quantity - nearly 200 entries were received for the AD&D division of the contest, and every one of them had to be looked over before we could make even the most preliminary selections. Howard DeWied's entry ended up at the top, but there were dozens of other contestants who obviously put their heart and soul into what they submitted - and they deserve an equally large share of the credit for making this contest such a high-quality competition. Our congratulations go to all the prizewinners, whose names are listed for posterity on page 48. When's the next contest? Well...give us a little while to recover from eyestrain, and we'll let you know.
This issue's classy cover, "Dragon Spell," is the first evidence of the talent of Clyde Caldwell which has appeared on these pages. Clyde is a paperback-book cover artist of no small renown (look for his distinctive signature the next time you're browsing the bookstore shelves), and is also represented with a piece in our 1982 DAYS OF THE DRAGON calendar.
The cornerstone of our feature article section this month represents somewhat of a departure from policy for DRAGON magazine. Never before has this publication presented material which, to put it bluntly, suggests that an entire major section of the AD&D rules be reconstructed. But when authors Philip Meyers and Steven Howard provided us with well thought-out manuscripts on how the monk character class ought to be refurbished and redesigned, we decided to give them their due. Once again, we point out that articles in DRAGON magazine are nothing more than suggested ways to change or enhance your game, and there's nothing "official," in any sense of the word, connected with our presentation of these (or any other) pieces of writing.
The longest single article inside (except for the module, of course) is the latest in our continuing line of suggested new non-player characters for an AD&D campaign: Andrew Dewar's vision of the Oracle. For some NPCs of deity-level status, take a look at the Bogatyrs, a collection of legendary old Russian heroes (and the villains they fought) which serves as the first installment of "Larger Than Life," a new feature devoted to descriptions of super-high-powered characters on a par with the personalities in the DEITIES & DEMIGODS Cyclopedia.
On a more philosophical note, we offer you "Some universal rules" from contributing editor Roger Moore on how to design a personalized universe that works the way a universe should. And in the same vein, the second installment of John Prados' series in Simulation Corner on making a working model of your very own game design.
Some of the niftiest monsters around are those which have been "translated" from fantasy literature into AD&D terms. Mark Nuiver went through John Wyndham's science-fiction classic The Day of the Triffids with a fine-toothed pencil to come up with the definitive AD&D Triffid. Plant a few of these in your next adventure and see what blossoms.
You can't usually find out what's on the other side of a doorway unless you go through it. Len Lakofka, in his latest essay from Leomund's Tiny Hut, spells out how getting through a door can be a whole lot tougher than simply twisting the latch. In similar fashion, Merle Rasmussen, the dean of TOP SECRET administrators, tries to make things more difficult for agents by listing what equipment each type of spy can and can't employ.
The newest additions to the Dragon's Bestiary area are a couple of lawful good guys, the Argas and Narra, plus the bizarre one-eyed Oculon. Grouped in the Dragon's Augury section are a trio of games about three widely diverse subjects - and diversity is also the key word in The Electric Eye, where computer columnist Mark Herro takes time to clean out his tidbit file.
And the list goes on (but not for much longer) with a Traveller variant giving more "oomph" to the Merchant class; some recommendations from game-design scholar Glen Rahman on how to make Junta a more revolutionary activity.
As evidence of our usual flair for finishing with a grin, the last three pages of #53 contain a sampling of "Dragon Mirth" cartoons; the current trials and tribulations of Finieous Fingers & Friends; and a new "What's New" by Phil Foglio. If your page 80 is all wet and wrinkled, blame Phil; he told us to do it. - KM