Dragon (magazine)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The front cover of issue 92

Dragon is the official Dungeons & Dragons magazine. Published from from 1976 to 2002 by TSR / Wizards of the Coast, the magazine was outsourced to Paizo Publishing (a company founded by WotC alums, now known for publishing Pathfinder) through September 2007 (issue 359). At this point Wizards took the license back from Paizo, and restarted it as an online-only version, in which format it continues to be published. In all incarnations, Dragon has been "100% official content", and much material that was first published in it has found its way into D&D gaming supplements; in this way, it has served as a proving ground for aspiring game designers. Three other publications were merged with it at various times--Little Wars (TSR's wargaming publication), Ares (for science fiction games that TSR acquired from SPI), and Living Greyhawk Journal (for WotC's organized play events).

From 1986 to its end Dragon was accompanied by Dungeon magazine, which provided premade adventures (mostly for Dungeons & Dragons). Like its sister publication, Dungeon is now online-only.

The magazine spun off several comic strips, including Knights of the Dinner Table, What's New with Phil and Dixie, Dork Tower, and Nodwick. Additionally, The Order of the Stick ran a series of bonus strips in it.

A review in the April 1982 issue immortalized the infamously bad (and/or parody) RPG The Spawn of Fashan, keeping it from vanishing into the dustbin of gaming history.

A CD collection of issues 1-250 and its predecessor The Strategic Review was released in 1999. It is very much out of print.

Not to be confused with a Japanese magazine called Dragon, which covers Japanese RPGs and includes manga, and was the original source of the manga for Slayers, Full Metal Panic!, Chrono Crusade, Record of Lodoss War, and other series.

If you are looking for a trope about the Big Bad's second-in-command, see The Dragon. If you're looking for large reptiles of some sort, see Our Dragons Are Different.

Tropes used in Dragon (magazine) include:
  • April Fools' Day: For many years the April issues were generously leavened with humorous articles, joke spellbooks and spells (Bigby's Insulting Hand, anyone?) and listings of magic items only Loonies would want to own. An April issue also hosted the infamous review of The Spawn of Fashan.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: A regular feature by this name spotlighted new, unusual, and often humorously twisted magical items.
    • Pages from the Mages - series of articles on sample spellbooks from Forgotten Realms (with background on the history of each) that contain both uncommon-to-unique spells and lore. Was later collected and published as a separate sourcebook.
  • Caption Contest: In the later years, illustrated by Tony Moseley (author of Zōgōnia).
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Some of the most perennially popular articles were "The Nine Hells" (parts I and II) and "The Nine Hells Revisited", penned by Ed Greenwood in the early '80s and which delved into the hierarchy of Planescape version of Hell for the first time, introducing a number of recurring villains.
    • Towards the end of the magazine's print run, the "Demonomicon of Iggwilv" series of articles, each of which spotlighted an individual demon lord in great detail.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Ironically, many of the earliest "Ecology of..." articles presented mundane (or pseudomundane) explanations for the "magical" abilities of some monsters. For instance, the "death gaze" of the catoblepas was explained as "really" being a poisonous breath weapon; the catoblepas' head hangs so low that one had to be within a few feet of it to see its eyes -- at which point they were within range of the poison gas it emitted, and the survivors attributed the effect to the wrong body part.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis - Sometimes, usually Forgotten Realms material, where "Ed of Green Wood" gets scolded by the certain archmage.
    • Crossover: "The Wizards Three", a series of humorous short stories by Ed Greenwood in which Mordenkainen of Greyhawk, Elminster of the Forgotten Realms, and Dalamar of Dragonlance met for friendly dinner parties in Ed's dining room. The conceit was that Elminster helped Ed conceal himself in a suit of armor to watch them talk, in exchange for a neutral meeting space away from the usual distractions (as well as loads of food and beverages). Mordenkainen and Dalamar never knew Ed was present. Supposedly.
    • Fourth Wall Mail Slot: Occasionally happens.
  • Mockumentary: The "Ecology of..." articles presented in-depth looks at various D&D monsters. For most of the TSR era, they were presented as short stories with footnotes, while Paizo made them actual articles.
  • Running Gag: The oft-promised but never-quite-delivered "Sex and D&D" edition of comic strip What's New with Phil and Dixie. It was finally delivered in the 1994 strip collection... but was, in fact, all about monster mating habits.
  • Troper Works:
    • Troper Looney Toons has two articles in Dragon (in issues 78 and 100). Forgive him their quality, he was young.
    • Troper I Enjoy Paste has one, in 346. He's still quite proud of it.
    • Troper robkelk has one in issue 114. Much like Looney Toons, he was young at the time.
  • Uncancelled: Being published by Paizo saved it from even earlier cancellation.
  • Walking the Earth: The Voyage of the "Princess Ark" series - Mystara travelogue (later published as a whole in Champions of Mystara).