From the editor-in-chief's description of the issue:
The highlights of DRAGON #55, to a veteran reader, may well be the re-appearance of two authors whose work hasn't been in these pages for many months. Those of you who've joined the ranks of our readership in the last 11 months will be seeing one of DRAGON's specialties - a Niall of the Far Travels story by Gardner Fox - for the first time. Gar hasn't had a story published since way back in #44 (our fault, not his), and the tale that resumes the Niall series is, fittingly enough, the story of Niall's first adventure away from his homeland and how he came to possess his great sword. "The Coming of the Sword" begins with Thom Gillis' full-page illustration on page 24.
Gary Gygax has been "gone" even longer than Gar Fox. It's been more than a year since the creator of the AD&D game and former publisher of DRAGON has penned an edition of his column, "From the Sorceror's Scroll." But there's one inside (page 17), and we have the promise of many more words to come in the immediate future from the master of Dungeon Masters.
So much for the triumphant returns. Now let's take it from the top: The cover painting you just got done looking at is an Erol Otus original - and original is certainly the word for that bizarre monster. Erol also provided the idea and the color art for the devil spider, which leads off this edition of Dragon's Bestiary.
All in all, this is perhaps the most colorful issue of DRAGON magazine ever. You'll find a small-size rendition of the cover of the FIEND FOLIO tome on page 6, leading off a short section about the latest official AD&D volume. Contributing editor Ed Greenwood and reader Alan Zumwalt offer their views on what's good and bad about the book, and FF editor Don Turnbull takes the better part of a page to respond to their criticisms.
The next step along the way is Lawrence Schick's essay on revising the AD&D dinosaurs - unofficial recommendations on how to change the creatures' statistics to conform with new scientific discoveries about the big lizards. (Or were they lizards?) That feature is accompanied by a couple of striking color plates from "The Dinosaurs," a new release from Bantam Books, and a review of that same book prepared by professional literary critic Chris Henderson.
Katherine Kerr, a frequent contributor to our "Giants in the Earth" column, is responsible for this month's "celebrity characters" - none other than Robin Hood and all the other men of Sherwood Forest, plus the nasty Sheriff of Nottingham.
The center eight pages of Dragon #55 contain The Creature of Rhyl, Kevin Knuth's adventure for the D&D Basic Set rules which won second place in the Basic division of our International Dungeon Design Contest. You need ingenuity, but not necessarily a lot of playing experience, to overcome the obstacles this adventure presents, which makes it ideally suited for beginning players and player characters as well.
Also to be found inside are Pat Reinken's courageous look at the ways and means to conduct a successful escape, when running away becomes the best course of action, and Jon Mattson's multifaceted examination of the "skill" system in Traveller. Glenn Rahman, designer of the DIVINE RIGHT game, describes famous monuments of the land in the latest installment of "Minarian Legends," and John Prados' series on game design in "Simulation Corner" continues with an examination of the concept of "state of the art."
Our review section covers a lot of bases - taking in the whole Universe, not to mention the entire Third Reich, and a diverse collection of other new products in the gaming marketplace. Returning after a two-month absence (our fault, not Bill's) is Bill Fawcett's "Figuratively Speaking" feature.
And just ahead of our usual hodgepodge of humor at the back of the magazine, you'll find "Da Letter." If it isn't the most interesting communication we've ever received at this office, it's in the top two. - KM