Dragon Magazine: Spring 1987

In 1986 Shinwa launched a quarterly magazine in support of Dungeons & Dragons called ドラゴンマガジン “Dragon Magazine”. The first two issues were a bit thin in the way of content. The 3rd issue (Spring 1987) uses cover art by Denis Beauvais which previously appeared on issue 78 of TSR’s Dragon magazine.

The 3rd issue features an adventure called “The Resurrection of Legendary Beast Teral” for 6-9 characters of levels 8-12. This powerful party, it is hoped, will be able to stop the spell caster Alyssa from summoning the demon Teral from the alternate dimension in which he is imprisoned. A few NPCs and artifacts from the module “B3: Palace of the Silver Princess”, which Shinwa had translated, are woven into the plot. Alyssa desires a red ruby called “The Eye of Arik” to free Teral, but the party can destroy the ruby with the help of a silver dragon named Ariksbane.

The party will need to discover the location of the temple. Once inside the party will find frescoes depicting Arik of the Hundred Eyes, Alyssa, and Ariksbane though they are not named as such. The frescoes contain some useful hints, but the party should try to move quickly through the temple since there is a purple worm and a Tyrannosaurus rex wandering about. If the party confronts Alyssa, she will call for the aid of 4 death demons. Oh, and she is also protected by the two headed dog Dioskilos from the movie “Clash of the Titans”.

B5 magazine 44 pp.

Call of Cthulhu

クトゥルフの呼び声 “Call of Cthulhu” (1986) is Hobby Japan’s translation of the 2nd edition of Chaosium’s game of Lovecraftian horror. I’m told Call of Cthulhu is the most popular TRPG in Japan today. I don’t think this was the case back when Hobby Japan was the publisher, though it did well enough for them to justify an impressive series of supplementary box sets before going out-of-print for a ten year spell. Pictured is an 8th printing of the introductory set from 1989.

For any readers unfamiliar with the game, character generation starts by rolling nine characteristics: strength, constitution, size, intelligence, power, dexterity, appearance, education, and sanity. Having a large size is a significant advantage in melee and monsters can be much larger than humans. The game lacks classes, but one’s occupation determines what skills one is likely to have. There is no level advancement either, though characters can improve their skills. Sanity, which decreases as characters learn more about the Lovecraftian Mythos, distinguishes Call of Cthulhu from other Chaosium games. If sanity is left out one has a serviceable set of rules for a generic modern setting, and the game has been used this way in Japan.

As for the Japanese version, Jun Arisaka translated the rulebook. The JV box set adds a scenario book containing the three short scenarios from the EV rulebook as well as scenarios from the Cthulhu Companion (1983).

Box contents:
• perfect bound rulebook, 80 pp.
• saddle stitched scenario book, 52 pp.
• saddle stitched sourcebook, 32 pp.
• world map, 23″ x 34″
• silhouette sheet, 8.5″ x 11″
• 10 character sheets, 8.5″ x 11″
• dice: 2d10, 1d8, 3d6

Comptiq Magazine: October 1986

The second installment of ロードス島戦記 “Record of Lodoss War” appeared in the October 1986 issue of Comptiq magazine. Like in the first installment, the artwork is by Yutaka Izubuchi, who some say is responsible for the extra long ears one sees on elves in Japanese illustrations.

The party of six travel through a forest to a cave in the side of a cliff where they enter their first dungeon. The dialogue, you may recall, is intended to teach how to play D&D and topics which get treated during the course of the adventure are light sources, marching order, the use of minis, listening at doors, and map-making. Woodchuck the thief irresponsibly leaves the rest of the party without taking his own torch and encounters giant ants in the dark which he narrowly escapes. Later Etoh the cleric fails to turn some skeletons, so Parn and Ghim are forced to fight them. Beyond the skeletons they discover a room with a desk and a portrait of a beautiful woman. The desk contains a letter signed by Karla. If the replay follows the same story as the anime the party will be seeing more of both the beautiful woman and Karla.

Having explored the complex completely, the players are puzzled why they haven’t found the treasure-guarding crystal warrior they were told about in the previous installment. Deedlit the elf and party mapmaker analyzes her map and predicts the location of a secret door behind which they find a room with a statue made of quartz crystal. The statue speaks and poses a riddle: “I hide blue and black. What am I?” Deedlit solves the riddle and the statue allows them to pass unharmed to the treasure room, where they find a magic sword, a healing potion, and enough gold pieces to level up.

B5 perfect bound magazine 210 pp.

Roads to Lord

ローズ・トゥ・ロード “Roads to Lord” (1984) designed by Naoto Kadokura and published by Tsukada Hobby, is the first Japanese fantasy RPG, preceding Dungeons & Dragons in Japanese by a year.

Character generation starts by rolling percentile dice and consulting a table to determine one’s race and social status. The races are human, fairy (elf, sylph, gnome, salamandar, or undine), dwarf, halfling, shape changer (wolf, tiger, bear, or snake), half-elf, and giant. There are unnumbered rows for goblin and ogre, so apparently a player cannot play these. Whatever roll the player gets, there are initial values for Strength, Dexterity, Will, and Charisma, to which the player adds the result of d6 roll.

A weapon chart indicates the amount of damage each weapon does. Armor subtracts from the damage taken. So for example a short sword does 2d6-1 points of damage, but if the defender is wearing chain armor the result of the roll is reduced by 3 points. If a player takes damage, it is subtracted from Strength, Dexterity, or Will at the player’s discretion.

Magic is of the following types: black (B), white (W), water (T), fire (T), earth (E), air (A), and mind (M). There is a deck of spell cards with letters on the back indicating the type of magic. Anyone can cast a spell if they have the card and the necessary Will. Players are given opportunities during the course of play to draw from the spell deck.

The fairy races sylph, gnome, salamander, and undine are strong in air, earth, fire, and water magic respectively. These names are taken from a team of DC Comics superheroes called the Elementals which first appeared in 1978.

A setting book describes the world of Jerusalem. A scenario book contains two adventures: “Cave of the Witch” and “Black Tower of Millea Island”.

Box contents:
• Rulebook, B5 pamphlet, 16 pp.
• World Guide, B5 pamphlet, 20 pp.
• Scenario book, B5 pamphlet, 20 pp.
• Jerusalem World, folded map, 82 cm x 58 cm
• charts, 20 cm x 28 cm pamphlet, 8 pp.
• 100 spell cards, 5.7 cm x 8.4 cm
• cardstock hex sheet, 20 cm x 28 cm
• ~20 hex titles
• ~30 counters and unit case
• 4 lead minis
• dice: 2 d20 and 2 d6