Contemplating the Dragon, Dungeon Magazine Changes

Paizo Publishing’s announced some major changes to its flagship Dragon and Dungeon magazines.

The changes, apparently based on market research and feedback from readers, are pretty major. Dragon is going to become a more broad-based D&D magazine, focusing not only on the pen-and-paper RPG, but on its various electronic spawn as well. It’s also adding monthly class-specific updates (as in, new material for every archetypal class in the PHB).

Over at Dungeon, the changes are far greater. Polyhedron, the d20 portion of the magazine which featured fully-developed mini-games as well as Star Wars d20 material, d20 content and RPGA news, is being ditched. The presence of that content in Dungeon has been a sore point with readers for years because it cannibalized the pages dedicated to D&D material. The new-and-improved dragon will now feature three adventures each issue — a low-level, a mid-level and a high-level one. There’s also going to be a new column by Wil Wheaton called “Wil Save” and some new columns offering dungeon-mastering advice.

How do I feel about the changes? Well, I’m a little concerned about the Dragon shift. I’ve got a bunch of sources for electronic gaming — GameSpot, IGN, Electronic Gaming Monthly — and I don’t need another one. Unless Dragon’s page count is going to go up, I can’t see the addition of electronic gaming coverage being worth the lose of the pen & paper content. Now if they do something cool, like start covering computerized tools for D&D, I’d be interested, but I don’t really need tips and hints for playing Neverwinter’s Night or Baldur’s Gate. That said, I can why they’d want to try and capture some of those console or PC-only gamers who’ve never picked up an issue of Dragon.

As for the changes at Dungeon, I’ve got to say I’m sorry to see the Poly portion of the magazine go away. I’ll miss all those great mini-games, even if I never played any of them. As a gamer, I’m always interested in checking out new ideas and games, and Poly’s mini-games satisfied that desire during the months when I didn’t have enough cash to pick up a new game.

That said, having three modules in each issue covering all of the standard power levels will make Dungeon more useful for me overall. Recently I sported through two years worth of Dungeon’s look looking for mid-level adventures I could use for my group’s new Realmsbreaker campaign (in which we attempt to destroy the Forgotten Realms) and it was a hit or miss process. Being able to pick up any issue of Dungeon and find a level-appropriate adventure without having to convert it up or down is definitely a good thing.

What about Wil Wheaton’s new column? That might strike some gamers as odd, but I’ve been reading his weblog for a while now and I’ve found him to be an articulate geek with a passion for gaming. He’ll be a good fit for Paizo, but I’m surprised they’re sticking him in Dungeon rather than Dragon. Based on the fact that they’re adding new dungeon-mastering/game theory articles, I’m guessing this means that Wheaton’s column will be focusing more on that aspect of the game.

I subscribe to both magazines, and while I’m a little apprehensive about the changes at Dragon, I’m looking forward to the relaunched titles. I’ll post more comments when they arrive in my mailbox.

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