I used to be a nut for TSR’s Dragon Magazine. We’re talking the 1980s here, so long before Wizards of the Coast or Paizo Publishing got a hold of it. I grew up in a small town and no one was into RPGs. Even the kid who introduced me to D&D “grew out of it” a year later. I was essentially all alone in a town where tractor pulls and demolition derbies were considered the height of entertainment. Dragon was, for me, a way of knowing there were other people like me out there, other folks who liked gaming and fantasy stories. It was a lifeline in the dark.
The first issue I ever saw I bought while visiting my father and his wife and kids (long story, broken home, boo hoo, I got over it) in Arizona. It was issue #117, not a particularly spectacular issue, but it got me hooked. I found a bookstore in a nearby town that carried Dragon and, when I could convince my mother to take me there, I picked up issues. Eventually I got a subscription, and waiting for the next issue was hell. Note that I was about fourteen at the time and had all the patience of a fourteen year-old. I read each issue cover to cover, devouring the articles, the cartoons, even the ads. Advertisements for Gen-Con in the exotic state of Wisconsin beckoned to me. I read about painting miniatures, about the role of computers in gaming (twenty years prior to World of Warcraft), about gaming sessions run by actual adults…
It was also during this time that I first was introduced to Lovecraft and the Mythos. I believe I’ve shared that story before, but I was basically sick for several days, running a high fever, and an old book, the Macabre Reader, was my only source of entertainment. What seeped out of that book and into my addled brains over those few days has stuck with me ever since. And so it was that when Dragon Magazine #138 arrived not long after and had an article about a game called The Call of Cthulhu, I was astounded. My new obsession with the stories of Lovecraft had just slammed together with my love of RPGs. It was like a Reese’s peanut butter cup.
Oddly enough, I didn’t rush out and buy Call of Cthulhu RPG. It would be another almost fifteen years before I finally bought a copy. Why? It was really hard to find in backwater Ohio. D&D was about as heretical as the bookstores would get. Also, I bought “Beyond the Supernatural” by Palladium Books and it was my horror game of choice for years. I still have a copy of that old paper bound book, and I love it still. I guess I didn’t know what I was missing with Call of Cthulhu.
In any event, I’d like to present here that copy of Dragon that married my two passions. It’s probably not kosher for me to host this here, but eh, if asked I’ll take it down. For now, please enjoy Dragon Magazine #138, the 1988 Halloween issue.