Here There Be Dragons!

So I finally got a package from Lulu, one that included two of John Stater‘s books that feature my art, Nod 34, and Blood&Treasure 2e Monster Book II.  His products, many of which feature my artwork, can be had also at OBS.


Also in that shipment are GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 4: Dragons, by Sean Punch,

and a slightly earlier product, Matt Rigsby’s GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 2: Tomb of the Dragon King.  I am going to compare them with a few other draconic products I own; Phil Master’s GURPS  Dragons, and R.Nelson Bailey’s Dungeon Delve 2: Dungeons of the Dread Wyrm.

GURPS Dragons is an interesting product. It was for GURPS 3e, but also had conversion notes for 4e that made it effectively one of the first 4e books.  It is scaled very differently from Dungeon Fantasy, as its 3e templates range from 40-150 points, and the upgraded 4e templates run from 80-200 points, at least for the human types. These dragons seem compatible with GURPS Fantasy, and a number of campaign ideas such as playing dragons, living in a  secret magic technomagical world (not quite Technomancer, which has its own dragons) and living in a modern world where the dragons return.

This makes the appropriately scaled dragons far weaker than the ones presented in either Rigsby’s or Punch’s books.  They also lean toward the “Realistic” as the largest dragon in Dragons is slightly stronger than an Elephant, whereas the Gargantuan dragon proposed by Punch could fly off with an elephant as a snack.  Interestingly, Punch built from the small/medium/large templates for dragons that Rigsby used exactly, but then turned the dial up to eleven.

Rigsby logically builds upon what societal effects you would have with powerful, long lived and intelligent foes; his Adventure is largely populated by the members of a dragon cult that support the draconic society, and also has a couple of potent non dragon creatures; to me, the bestiary alone is worth the purchase.

Bailey’s offering from Dungeoneer’s Guild Games, on the other hand, is a high level adventure for 1st edition AD&D or equivalent system, and provides cunning obstacles in the form of a few select allies of the dragon at the heart of the module, along with the defenses of a lair that took centuries to build, and is frankly, this generation’s Tomb of Horrors. Rigsby’s senior dragon is a powerful foe, with a small army and a hazardous lair.  Bailey’s dragon is a potent foe, and it’s lair is a fiercely scaled threat well suited to the volume of treasure that a dragon would be hoarding. There is a great deal of willful misdirection by that dragon, and a great many things that adventurers would think of have been planned for, which is what one should expect from a brilliant, ancient foe that knows it will always have enemies.

John Stater also provides a number of dragons in his book, along with a variety of imaginative foes. The looseness and variety of options in his game and its assorted flavors (weird, Mother Goose, Pulp) for me means that Blood & Treasure 2e would be one of my systems of choice if I could get a regular group of players together. I have contemplated starting a game on rpol, using my own setting, but the rules from this retro clone. For those that don’t know it, it is a B/X variant with a lot of optional features including feats,, with a ton of class and race options, and a massive array of foes to fight. If you pick up his zine Nod, there is an enormous amount of pregenerated background material, and you can find my artwork in all issues after 27.

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