My thoughts on 4e Dragon Magazine

If there was a magazine I got just out of habit, it was Dragon magazine during the 3e era, and I feel that became more and more true throughout the Paizo era. While Dungeon under Paizo was doing better and better things, Dragon just had too many articles that didn’t interest me at all. To make things worse, I didn’t like Paizo’s take on demons much, so their highly-hyped “Demonicon of Iggwilv” articles were generally just dead weight.

There were occasion exceptions amongst the articles, but mostly I found them tedious and boring.

Then came 4e, and Wizards taking back the magazines and turning them into online versions. I’m not going to speak much about their online status; it has pros and cons. The biggest pro (and it’s a massive one) is that they become available to everyone at the same time. No more waiting 2-3 months for my issue to arrive, hooray!

I haven’t looked at 4e Dungeon much, mostly because I haven’t been browsing from home. Adventures need more time to digest, and I’m not entirely happy with the format they’ve been using in the early adventures (and haven’t seen the more recent ones).

However, 4e Dragon has been a revelation. All of a sudden, there are a bunch of articles that I find interesting and I want to read. What’s caused the change?

Well, 4e being new, for a start. In the old days of Dragon magazine – and I’m talking about the 1e era – it was pretty much the only source of new materials for the AD&D game. Hardcover books? If you were lucky, you saw one a year. For this brief period, it is the same with 4e Dragon.

So, all the mechanics and monsters Dragon posts are new to us, and, given we’re spoilt and used to the multitude of options in 3e, significantly expand on what we have.

That’s the most significant point.

The other aspect, which has helped greatly, is the integration of mechanics and article. When I read Wish upon a Star, not only am I getting pretty good story-building material and advice, but I’m getting mechanics that directly relate to the rest of the article – and that are easily integrated into an ongoing campaign. That 4e explicitly allows retraining of characters is a great point as well – I adopted the 3.5e version immediately it appeared in PH2.

Will this love of the new material wear off as we get more 4e books? It may well. I’m not sure that the publishing schedule will be so packed as for that to happen, but there may come a time where “another warlock power” won’t be exciting at all.

For now, I’m just enjoying my renewed love of Dragon Magazine.

3 comments

  1. Anonymous

    There’s another thing, which I think is widely overlooked and frankly under-hyped by WotC.

    In the Paizo era, the magazines were “official,” but they were created out-of-house by a third party. Even in the pre-Paizo era, the mags were generally created in a different department of the company, and while I’m sure R&D input was easier, content was still created outside of the R&D workflow.

    Now, however, the magazine content is created by the same people who create the standard for-sale print products. It’s part of the same workflow that creates the core D&D product. The material is created alongside the material for the books, by the same people.

    The magazines are going to be more topical as well as being developed to the same standards as the rest of D&D. (This is also true of the web and the RPGA teams–all D&D content is now coming out of R&D, something I pushed for my entire tenure.) And it’s going to be integrated into the DDI applications as quickly as the print books.

    Given this, and the volume of content, I think the mags are a better deal than they’ve ever been–and that sheds a good light on the whole value proposition of DDI.

    Like

  2. Anonymous

    Hi, Merric–

    There’s another thing, which I think is widely overlooked and frankly under-hyped by WotC.

    In the Paizo era, the magazines were “official,” but they were created out-of-house by a third party. Even in the pre-Paizo era, the mags were generally created in a different department of the company, and while I’m sure R&D input was easier, content was still created outside the R&D workflow.

    Now, however, the magazine content is created by the same people who create the standard for-sale print products. It’s part of the same workflow that creates the core D&D product. The material is created alongside the material for the books, by the same people.

    The magazines are going to be more topical as well as being developed to the same standards as the rest of D&D. (This is also true of the web and the RPGA teams–all D&D content is now coming out of R&D, something I pushed for my entire tenure.) And it’s going to be integrated into the DDI applications as quickly as the print books.

    Given this, and the volume of content, I think the mags are a better deal than they’ve ever been–and that sheds a good light on the whole value proposition of DDI.

    –Charles

    Like

  3. drengy

    I totally agree about the new magazines. Last night I downloaded Dragon and read it cover to cover on the couch with my laptop. Never used to do that with the print mag – I would skip at least half the content each month.

    Plus this months Dungeon was 136 pages!

    I will definitely be doing a yearly subscription once they start charging. Still not sure about the rest of D&DI (I have a Mac) but the mags are great!

    Like

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