From the editor-in-chief's description of the issue:
SEARCH FOR THE EMPEROR'S TREASURE is not an easy game to describe in a few words. But, describing things in a few words is what this column is all about, so I'll try. EMPEROR'S TREASURE is the latest creation from the fertile and somewhat strange imagination of Tom Wham, who has been represented in this magazine three times previously with SNIT SMASHING (#10), SNIT'S REVENGE (#11), and THE AWFUL GREEN THINGS FROM OUTER SPACE (#28). The later two of those games were published as boxed games by TSR Hobbies, Inc., after their debut in DRAGON magazine. EMPEROR'S TREASURE may someday follow the same path, but you don't have to wait that long to enjoy it: Just disengage the center 16 pages, the map, the counters, and the cards from the magazine, set it up and start looking for treasure.
The resemblance between EMPEROR'S TREASURE and the rules for the D&D and AD&D games is not coincidental. Tom describes it as a simple board-game version of everybody's favorite fantasy games, and he gives credit where credit is due under the line in the credits that begins with "Inspiration." What Tom (modest soul, that boy) doesn't point out is that it is, first and foremost, a Tom Wham game. That means it's easy to learn, it's funny, it's fun to play, and it never plays the same way twice. What more could you ask from a game?
Now that I've failed miserably at spending just a few words on this issue's main attraction, I'll see if it's possible to sum up the rest of this 96-page magazine in the little amount of space remaining.
For starters, our green, green cover painting comes from the easel of Susan Collins. It's her first DRAGON cover, but the second time she's had a full-page color piece published by us, and she's produced dozens of black & white illustrations over the last several issues. Another striking piece of color art is on page #6 - Gail Gierahn's blazing sun which leads off a seven-story special section on the popular Traveller game system.
The Traveller section includes a long and strong system developed by contributing editor Roger Moore for generating alien characters; more charts and tables from Jeff Swycaffer; outlining a way for players to have some say in how their characters are created; four short stories by Paul Crabaugh full of ideas and opinions to enhance a Traveller campaign; and a piece written by Marc Millar, designer of the Traveller game system, written (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) especially for this edition.
To satisfy the never-ending demand for more material to be used in an AD&D or D&D game, we offer a new character race, The Winged Folk, by William Lennox with artwork by Todd Lockwood; plus a pair of stories discussing the difficulties and rewards of playing a paladin character; and a long treatise by Len Lakofka in Leomund's Tiny Hut on the unusual, but entirely logical, concept of making a player character work his way up to first level.
For variety, there's a new cult to introduce into a RuneQuest game; a new insect to bug the opposition in Chitin:I; and another page from The Rasmussen Files to spice up a TOP SECRET campaign.
We welcome a new fiction writer to these pages with the appearance of A Part of the Game by Darrell Schweitzer. It's a short but sandy tale with more twists than a chaotic roller coaster.
Regular features we had room for this time around include a two-page spread of Figuratively Speaking reviews centering around science-fiction figures and accessories appropriate for use with Traveller; a review section which takes a long look at the new edition of Triplanetary and shorter looks at three Traveller-related products; two new creatures in Dragon's Bestiary; a questionnaire for computer freaks in The Electric Eye; and the story of Schardenzar the Sorcerer, the latest chapter in the Minarian Legends by Glenn Rahman, whe designed the DIVINE RIGHT game.
Besides an extensive listing of conventions from now until wintertime, you'll also find a summary of the soon-upcoming CWA-CON '81 and an update on more offerings which have been scheduled for the GEN CON XIV convention next month.
And, as usual, we try to leave you laughing. The last six pages of DRAGON #51 contain another episode in the What's New escapades of Phil and Dixie; a page and a half of cartoons; more hijinks from Finieous Fingers and his gang of weirdos; and a terrific (as always) two-page Wormy. Have a jolly July. - KM