"For Halloween, we’re got something on tap that will tie past editions to the new edition in a way that just makes the DM in me tingle all over. I’ll talk more about that next month."
-- from Bill Slavicsek, "Ampersand", Dragon #366, August 2008.
I don't think we ever did hear from Mr. Slavicsek as to what was 'coming on tap' for Halloween this year - maybe will find out in a later issue of Dragon? Or maybe tomorrow I've got something cool on tap...
Nevertheless, to go along with the upcoming Halloween holiday, I thought I would bring my own something 'on tap' that tied in past editions for Halloween: a brief look back at a few of the Halloween issues of DRAGON magazine. Not an exhaustive list by any means - but all worth the read if you have access to them. My favorite? It would have to be the 1986 revision of The Witch NPC class. Hands down, best witch class ever.
- The Dragon #20 (1978) "The Horrible Halloween Issue" - In addition to a preview of the new animated film "Lord of the Rings", here's a couple of additional selections from this issue of Dragon:
- "ANOTHER LOOK AT WITCHES AND WITCHCRAFT IN D&D", by Ronald Pehr
- "DEMONOLOGY MADE EASY or, How To Deal With Orcus For Fun and Profit", by Gregory Rihn
- "Demonic Possession in the Dungeon", by Chas Sagui
- Dragon #42 (1980) - In addition to the awesome illustration by Todd Lockwood, this issue featured a number of sweet Halloween articles, including:
- "Demons, Devils and Spirits", by Todd Moldvay
- "A new evil... The Possessors", by Arn Ashleigh Parker
- "Patron demons", by Lewis Pulsipher
- "Restless dead", by George Lakin
- "The Mansion of Mad Professor Ludlow", by James M. Ward (Dragon's first haunted house module; remember this was years before Dungeon magazine existed).
- Dragon #76 (1983) - The Deathmaster was a magic-user sub-class who dies on Halloween (a.k.a. Orcus's Feast Day) will rise again as one of Orcus's undead minions.
- Dragon #114 (1986) - "The Witch", by Bill Muhlhausen was a remake of the classic NPC class from OD&D, and it updated for AD&D rules. The same issue also featured an article entitled "Grave Encounters: Creatures that lurk in cemetaries and crypts", by Nick Kopsinis and Patrick Goshtigian.
- Dragon #138 (1988) - This was one of the better Halloween issues from Dragon. It featured four solid 'scarefull' articles with a solidly Lovecraft spin:
- The Black Book and the Hunters, by Craig Schaefer
.... Those who annoy the Old Ones should keep a careful watch behind them.
- The Ungrateful Dead, by Tom Moldvay
.... Beautiful ghouls and titanic zombies: new undead for your AD&D games.
- Methods to Your Madness, by Ed Friedlander
.... A new insanity system that lets a little lunacy go a long way.
- The End of the World, by Eileen Lucas
.... Got an ailing fantasy campaign? Cure it - with the Black Death.
- Dragon #150 (1989) - Here's where the CORRECTED Vampire for AD&D was printed. Also, the editors of Dragon were still obsessed with Lovecraftian horror.
- The Dragon's Bestiary, by Stephen Inniss
.... In the lands of the mind flayers live their more monstrous relatives
- The Sunset World, by Stephen Inniss
..... Illithids welcome all strangers to their homeworld with open tentacles.
- Fangs Alot!, by The editors
.... A Halloween issue without vampires is like a day without sunshine: the revised AD&D® 2nd Edition vampire!
- The Well-Rounded Monster Hunter, by Dean Shomshak
.... Cthulhu doesn't scare me. I have a degree in art design!
Thinking about this... there could (and maybe should) be a similar database for the gaming community. For example, if there have been more than a dozen articles written about "Vampire Ecology"; do we really need another one? Or more to the point since this is a creative medium; do we really want one? Or is this too scholarly of an approach, and we should just ignore our gaming roots and reinvent the wheel forever?
I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. It should behoove the authors of all the various blogs that consitute the rpg blogosphere to "know thy history, know thy roots" and then build on what has been done to truly move things in new directions.
As a final comment: from a business standpoint - it is interesting to me how much rehashing the publishers have knowingly done. I mean, do you really think that the recent Dragon about Gnolls and Demons was the first of its kind? The answer is no.
 Artwork of Orcus drawn by Todd Lockwood appeared in Dragon #42 (1980).
 The Witch image taken from Dragon #114, artist unknown.