I’ve been continuing my exploration of my back-issues of Dungeon Magazine. It’s amazing to me how many old adventures in Dungeon I remember — but not perfectly. It’s also amazing to me how many of those adventures are really, really good. I mean, I guess I remember them for a reason. Some of the adventures back in the days of OD&D, 1st, and 2nd Ed are just outright winners. And I’m amazed at the shift in perception — both for myself and the magazine. Because there are some things I just totally glossed over when I was younger that I see now, or at least react to differently.
And that’s why the details are important… you know, some of those details I couldn’t remember…
Back in Issue 23 (May/June 1990), in the first issue I ever got as a subscriber, there was an adventure I remembered that I wanted to run with my current group. They’re a little bit silly (in a good way) and we are running urban adventures in a port city — so I thought of the adventure “Old Sea Dog” by Thomas Kane. I remembered the basics of the adventure, feuding nobles, kidnapped dog, pirate, etc. It seemed to be a good fit.
So I went back and started reading it. And I quickly realized the detail I’d forgotten… The dog that has been taken is the Duke’s champion Fighting Dog, taken so it can’t participate in the city’s big dog fighting event.
Er? Wait. That was in Dungeon? Yeah, it was. And back in 1990 I glossed over it and barely even noticed. I mean, it’s all in the background. The actual dog fights are not actually in the adventure — just talked about a lot.
The adventure is fun, well-written, quirky, and full of cool NPCs. I still intend to run it (with a modification or two) and I certainly don’t think that Thomas Kane is someone who enjoys dog-fighting. I think it was just a backdrop to the adventure, the same way a war, or a threat to an orphanage, or a drug problem would be…
But here’s the question; something to think about for a few minutes on a Friday afternoon. Can you imagine this adventure appearing in Dungeon today? Can you imagine what the Forums would look like after it came out? At best, I’d like to think that an otherwise well-written adventure like this one would probably get revised and still published but I think about the state of gaming today vs. twenty years ago and it’s interesting that a lot of the same issues are still with us, a lot of the same questions still get asked, and a lot has changed in the way our hobby has grown.
So, that’s my “thinking out loud” on a Friday… what do you think?
And as always, thanks for reading.