Into the Fire #1: Reviewing Dungeon Magazine #1

Dungeon remains a fabled magazine series to many, serving as a source of hours and hours of entertainment. I decided to honor the legendary publication by reading through the issues and I'll even play a couple of the adventures occasionally. Note that I have an ongoing series titled Open the Dungeon Gate that I previously ran on the official RW+B site. I'll be relocating it here for future editions. There is where you can find logs of play sessions.

Anyway, we begin with issue number one.

This was released in 1986, a few years before I was even born, and utilized the archaic 1e ruleset.

My first observation, after I was done admiring the badass art that the cover showcased, was the price tag. Less than $4. Not too shabby. Inflation puts that at about $10 by today's standards.

A quick intro where the writer tells us about using beans as miniatures, we get the letter section. One fan suggests the idea of naming this very magazine, Wyrm. The response featured several other options that were given consideration, which was kind of cool. Other letters included views on whether or not the concept of Dungeon was even worthwhile. With the gift of hindsight, this was entertaining for sure.

Our first adventure was titled The Dark Tower of Cabilar and was recommended for a group size between 4 and 8 between the 4th and 7th levels. Four years prior, an evil wizard took over a city, killing all in his way. All that escaped the onslaught was the king's attendant and the prince. The latter lost his crown to a vampire in a tragic event as he fled the chaos. It's up to the adventuring party to help him take back the crown. A magical item, named the Ring of Night, is detailed but is only relevant for those actually wanting to play the story. It's nonsensical regardless. It has an okay hook, but is a rather weak story.

Next, we have Assault on Eddistone Point. The first two adventures here are written by folks from DFW, tragically. This one is for 3-5 players from the 1st-3rd level range. A dwarf inhabited mountain range is the setting and I appreciated the setup for this one to be honestly simply because you can tell the designer spent a lot of time working on it. Is it a bit bloated? Sure. Is it still fun because you can feel the passion? Yup. Ultimately, it has a just enough meat on the story that you should be able to use it as a nice launching point. There are far better starter quests out there, but I'd say this was good overall or nearing it at the very least.

Grakhirt's Lair is up to bat next, giving us an adventure for 4-8, 1st-3rd level characters. It sees a lazy lord, some unhelpful locals, and an uninspired dungeon crawl get tossed at readers. An invisible enemy attacks and murders one of the players, for a nice crap covered cherry to top things off. This one should be ignored and avoided.

The Elven Home sees fairy themed elves in need of help from a group of 1-4 characters of the 1-3 level range. It's a short one with a few decent spinoff options, but nothing too special. I might nab part of the story, at the very least.

Next, Into the Fire for 6-10 leveled 6-10. I'd argue that this one is the star of the issue, which is fitting considering it's the cover story. It sees a prince, taken by pirates into slavery and features the dragon Flame as a foe with a king recruiting the PC's for a quest. There's a lot of meat here and, while the story won't blow anyone away, this was ultimately a pretty fun looking adventure. I am considering either running this one or stealing bits of it. Expect a lot of nature based traveling a loads of encounters with decent amounts of targets. Some of the goodies are decent and I can see folks using this one as a strong center section of a large campaign with a touch of work. Yeah, this one honestly is worth a look DM's!

Guardians of the Tomb closes things out, with a short side-quest for 2-6 of the levels 3-5. It's a super small tomb in a swamp full of shadows. Only fucked up DM's would even want to try this one, as it's really just an annoying wave attack encounter session and lacks any real flavor.

The layout was clunky and unpolished and the edition utilized here is ancient and essentially unplayable by modern standards. A good DM could easily find some things here that they might want to steal bits and pieces of, but I doubt anyone would want to go out of their way to convert any of the adventures in full. Into the Fire was the most noteworthy entry and Elven House had some worth too, I suppose. Overall, though, this was entertaining because of a historical value but largely skippable at the same time.

Overall Rating: **1/2

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