Review: Dragon and Dungeon Magazines

It has been seven months since Wizards rolled out their electronic e-zines for 4th Edition, so I figure now is as good as time as any to pitch my two cents about the quality.

I had a subscription with Dragon since 3rd Edition, and picked up Dungeon about halfway through that period. I barely used any content from either magazine: rarely I would find something that piqued my interest, but in almost all cases I perused it, read the comics, and shelved it. I think I got the most mileage out of Dungeon due to the Age of Worms adventure path (getting up to The Spire of Long Shadows).

Part of the problem was because so many rules were pretty badly implemented. Often it involve burning precious feats on what amounted to heavily circumstantial or largely useless abilities, or trading out class features for something that was, again, circumstantial or useless.

That all changed once Wizards got the license back and went digital. Now, I am not saying that it is better because they went to a digital format; I too enjoyed getting them in the mail and reading them wherever the fuck I wanted to. I am not even saying that the "issues" published before the release of 4th Edition were any good (they were free, and not 4E, so I dont count them).

What I am saying is that for the first time since ever, several of my gaming buddies actually bothered to get a subscription and have actually used content out of them. In the past getting another DM to allow something from Dragon, no matter how seemingly harmless, was like pulling teeth. Forget convincing them to get their own subscription, let alone bothering to read them (except for the comics section: they loved those).

Do not get me wrong. I do not use every article in either e-zine, and I do not think that its now perfect. There are good articles and bad ones, but I think that the quality overall has gotten a lot better. I actually enjoy getting new articles, reading them, and likely using them.

When it comes to Dungeon things have not changed much. I do not get to play Dungeons & Dragons as often as I would like, and with all the adventures already out it is hard to get the gang to run through a one-shot. That being said, more adventures retain my interest than before. I think aside from Age of Worms and Savage Tide, the only adventure that I ran out of the old Dungeon was the level 1 released near the end that had meenlocks or something to that effect. I cannot remember the name, just when I ran it things fell pretty flat.

I run Scales of War with some modifications to tailor it to my group, just as I have with all adventure paths before, and we are enjoying it quite a bit. I recall that Paizo had a rocky start with their adventure paths, and while Shackled City was not so hot, I have to say that I'm not impressed by Pathfinder either. Its just too much useless content mucking up your ability to read the adventure and keep the ball rolling.

Anyway, in the end I think that both magazines are much better than they've ever been. I'm waiting for for fan-created articles and hoping that the art picks up a bit, but otherwise I feel like my money is being well spent.

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