D&D Archives04/20/2007

Reflections on the D&D Magazines
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

DRAGON® Magazine and DUNGEON® Magazine have been a part of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® experience for more than three decades, and the end of an era always stirs up all kinds of emotions.

I’m a fan. For me, the summer of 1977 was shaped by the trinity of Star Wars, The Sword of Shannara, and endless evenings and weekends wrapped up in the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® game. That summer laid the groundwork for my professional career, a career that started nine years later when I was hired by West End Games as an editor and sold my first D&D adventure to DUNGEON Magazine.

Yesterday was an emotional day. It was emotional for you. It was emotional for me. It was sad. It was bittersweet. It stirred up all kinds of memories … the good times, the not so good times. The D&D times.

Sometimes good friends move on. Sometimes business partnerships end. It wasn’t an easy decision. It wasn’t a one-sided decision. It wasn’t a decision that was made lightly, maliciously, capriciously, or on a whim. We worked out a transition period with Paizo and negotiated the end of this particular era.

This ending isn’t an execution—it’s an evolution. Now comes the next era. We have a plan.

Yesterday was sad, but it was exciting, too. It’s exciting because I know something that you don’t know as yet. I know what happens next. And I can’t wait to share that with you, in all its glory. But I can’t do that today. There are business reasons, of course, and also practical reasons (to be frank, we’re still finalizing some of the details). And there’s also the fact that DRAGON Magazine and DUNGEON Magazine still have issues coming out from Paizo, and they deserve to have your undivided attention until the torch is officially passed back to us after issues #359 and #150.

I’m proud of the legacy of the D&D game, and the part the magazines have played in that legacy. I’m proud of the part I played in that legacy over the years—first as a gamer and Dungeon Master, then as a DUNGEON Magazine contributor, a D&D freelancer, a D&D game designer, and eventually the Director of all creative endeavors related to D&D.

My team here at Wizards includes many talented and dedicated gamers, including a number of people who started out working on DRAGON Magazine and DUNGEON Magazine. They helped shape and sustain the magazines over the years, and they have tons of creative talent and passion for the game. And all of them are involved in what comes next.

What follows is how this announcement impacted them, and some of the memories it stirred up.

Thanks for listening, and keep on playing!

Bill Slavicsek, R&D Director for D&D Games, Book Publishing, and Star Wars Miniatures and Roleplaying; Dungeon Master, D&D Game Designer, former Editor-in-Chief of DRAGON Magazine and DUNGEON Magazine; custodian of the legend.

I've seen DRAGON Magazine evolve from a basement operation into a work of art, from little more than a fanzine to one of the most widely read hobby magazines in the world. If anybody around here ought to be able to embrace change, it's me.

DRAGON has changed a lot on the outside over the decades I've known her, not only in production values but also in approach, physical specs, artwork, accessories… you name it. What keeps the old girl alive, though, is her never-ending goal of reaching the greatest number of people with the best possible content. Using a new delivery system doesn't have anything to do with compromising that goal.

—Kim Mohan, Editor of DRAGON Magazine, 1980–1987; current Editing Manager, RPG R&D

I’ve been in love with DUNGEON magazine from the very start. I received Issue #1 in my mailbox when I was a teenager and scored my first published credit in the magazine before I turned twenty. In school, professors would ask me what I wanted to do with my life, and my reply was quick and simple: “I want to edit DUNGEON magazine.” Ten years later, I became its editor-in-chief.

Today, twenty years after my first published credit in DUNGEON magazine, I’m part of the Wizards team responsible for creating D&D books, miniatures, and accessories. I want DUNGEON and DRAGON to be part of our plans for the future of the game, and I look forward to having them back in the fold. While this decision marks the end of an era, here are five words that make me feel better about the fate of DRAGON and DUNGEON magazines:

Nothing this good ever dies.

—Christopher Perkins, Design Manager, RPG R&D; Former Editor-in-Chief, DUNGEON Magazine (1997–2000); Former Associate Editor, DRAGON Magazine (1997–2000); 20-year contributor to DUNGEON and DRAGON Magazines

Compared to Chris Perkins or Kim Mohan, I’m nobody. I’ve never written an article for DRAGON Magazine or DUNGEON Magazine, let alone contributed years of work to these iconic publications. My introduction to D&D was through my friend’s brother in 1980. Much of my year in sixth grade was spent combing through his books, especially enjoying the art in the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio. Later that year I was introduced to Gamma World. In one sugar-fueled, midnight BMX session followed by a lengthy grounding, my game group was dismantled. Not long after this, I moved on to middle school and gaming lost its hold on me.

Unlike many people at Wizards of the Coast, I am not a life-long gamer. I came to Wizards in 2000 by way of the snowboard industry and discovered gaming for the second time in my life. This time it stuck. It started with my three-year stint working on MAGIC: THE GATHERING and continues today working on DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. I love D&D! I love to play D&D and do so every week. Currently, I am playing Yakama Stone, a 7th-level half-elf ranger on assignment in the jungles of EBERRON. I also love to work on D&D and want to see it grow and grow. More women, more teens, more adults, more people around the world should play D&D, and I have made that my single most important goal. With that in mind, I never do anything that I feel would work counter to that goal.

DRAGON Magazine and DUNGEON Magazine are pop-culture icons. They’ve been the cornerstones of the hobby for 31 years. This decision is a big deal, and the decision to move these to an online format was not taken lightly or done in a vacuum. Many people at Wizards gave careful consideration with months of deliberation and debate on the subject. This is a big deal and it is our full intention to continue to deliver the great content that the fans have come to expect from these magazines in a new medium.

—Scott Rouse, Senior Brand Manager, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS

I was a red-box kid, so I first encountered DRAGON Magazine in the early 80s on the shelves of a local bookstore. It seems hard to convey how big a deal it was to me when “Pages from the Mages 3” showed me that you could actually make new spells. I simply hadn’t seen that done before, so it was monstrously, monstrously big. It helped me realize that the potential for the game was far bigger than the rules written between the covers of the Player’s Handbook. Some of that sense of wonder, that sense of “Wow! You can really do that!” serves to energize design ideas for me even today. Even with the power that those memories of early issues hold, it is more recent memories that usually surface when I think of the magazines, simply because I had the incredible good fortune of working on the magazines for five-ish years, starting as an associate editor for both magazines and eventually leaving as DRAGON Magazine’s editor-in-chief. The magazines mean a lot to me, for both personal and professional reasons, and they will always be a treasured part of my D&D game. I can’t wait to see their next incarnation.

—Jesse Decker, Development Manager, RPG R&D; Editor-in-Chief of DRAGON Magazine #287-#311

The first issue of DRAGON Magazine that I purchased was #28, back in August 1979. I sent my first (appalling) submission to the magazine when I was still in middle school. My first article appeared in DRAGON in 1996, and I got my copy of that issue on the day my son was born. DRAGON and DUNGEON gave me my start in the game industry, and I still eagerly await each issue that shows up on my desk. I’m looking forward to working alongside the next crop of game designers who get their start in the online magazines and make their way to full-time jobs in the game industry—just like I did.

—James Wyatt, D&D Lead Story Designer; author of 45 articles and adventures in DRAGON Magazine and DUNGEON Magazine

I started my tenure on DRAGON Magazine and DUNGEON Magazine as an assistant editor of the first 3rd Edition issues, but my love for the magazines began nearly 15 years earlier when I first learned to play D&D from a friend. His messy room was always strewn with the magazines, and I would frequently peruse them. Even now, when I think of a past issue of DRAGON or DUNGEON, I often see it in my mind’s eye lying half-folded and looking slightly trampled on the frayed carpet of that room where we made our first forays into the fantastic worlds of our imaginations.

As I think about the magazines’ future, I can’t help but be excited. True, paper issues won’t litter the floors of future game designers, but their contents, after having been on the periphery for so long, will once again be brought into the fold and become an integral part of the future of the D&D game.

Having worked on the magazines at Paizo, I’m familiar with the passion, dedication, and sacrifice it took to put together every issue every month, and I’m proud of the great work of my friends there. Looking about me at Wizards of the Coast, I see that same love for the game in spades, and I know we’ll put that passion into our new takes on these cornerstones of the D&D experience.

—Matthew Sernett, D&D Game Designer and Former Editor-in-Chief of DRAGON Magazine

Whenever I eat teriyaki, I will always think of DUNGEON Magazine.

Back in the summer of 2002, I was a fresh-faced, enthusiastic magazine editor. One year into my tenure as Editor of DUNGEON, we launched the first DUNGEON Adventure Path. The memory that stands out the most is when the first tenuous ideas for an Adventure Path really started to come together.

Stay with me—I’m getting to the teriyaki.

In the past, DUNGEON had always relied on its creative readership for content. DUNGEON did not solicit adventures from anyone. The magazine had always been fed from the slush pile. But if you’re going to do a series, especially a long one, I didn’t think I could rely on a bunch of different authors to work together without giving them an outline and some major pieces of the puzzle. It would be like asking five different chefs to create a perfect meal together, but have each of them cook in separate kitchens. You get a much better result if all the cooks work together from an existing menu.

I knew then and know now that I don’t always have the best ideas—far from it. I think the best ideas come from a group of creative and engaged people working together. So one afternoon, Chris Perkins and I went out for—you guessed it—teriyaki. I told him my idea for an Adventure Path and told him, “I think we should do something using the Fiend Folio, maybe pick one of the monsters out of there to feature. I was thinking about the demodands.” And we were off. We talked for a good two hours that afternoon until we had a basic premise for the campaign, a core of villains that became the Cagewrights, a vile plot to merge the prison plane of Carceri with the Material Plane, and of course, the city of Cauldron.

I told you I’d get to the teriyaki.

I also talked Chris into writing the first installment, and we brainstormed the outline for “Life’s Bazaar.” In the weeks and months that followed, before and after the move to Paizo, I got in touch with the best of the best in D&D adventure design. I called local folks in to the office for an Adventure Path summit. Looking back now, when we were just sitting at the table, ignoring our teriyaki, we forgot for a time we were paid to be doing this. We were just two gamers, two DMs, sitting around and goobing out about D&D. Anyone who has played D&D has had these moments, where your imagination gets firing and ideas just seem to leap from your skull.

Part of me still can’t believe the magazines, in their current format, won’t be around anymore after the summer. But when I look to the future and see what we have planned, I can’t wait. Believe me, sometimes change really is for the best. I’m more excited than ever about the future of these gaming institutions. They’re not really going anywhere; they’re just coming home.

—Chris Thomasson, Editorial Assistant, DRAGON Magazine and DUNGEON Magazine, 1998–2000; Assistant Editor, DRAGON Magazine and DUNGEON Magazine, 2000–2001; Editor, DUNGEON Magazine, April 2001–June 2003; Editor-in-Chief, DRAGON Magazine, July 2003–October 2003; Editor, RPG R&D, Wizards of the Coast, November 2003–March 2007; Designer, RPG R&D, Wizards of the Coast, April 2007–???

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