Over at https://landofnod.blog/
you can find posts by John Stater called Dragon by Dragon
where he reads through an issue of Dragon Magazine and gives his thoughts about it. I recently bought a big pile of NOD Magazine and thought I would return the favor and go through each issue similarly.
We start off Nod #2 with Cloak and Dagger
, an article giving us a Thief and Assassin class. They're fine classes but there's nothing that really stands out with them.
Next, we get Urban Adventures which gives a lot of detail about urban areas. Mr. Stater recommends giving city-states alignments to use as a shorthand for the society. He then talks about population and how that corresponds to the number of manors, shires, burhs (markets), and abbeys in the area. He also recommends giving a theme (genre) and vista (sights, sounds, and smells) to each city-state. Then we get some pages about the citizens, the social classes, and notable citizens like alchemists, animal trainers, armorers, barbers, beggars, blacksmiths, bowyers, engineers, fences, guides, healers, herbalists, innkeepers, jewelers, lawyers, merchants, nobles, priests, prostitutes, rakes, sages, sailors, scribes, spies, students, tax collectors, torchbearers, and traders. Each get a paragraph and a 2-line statblock. Next, there is a bit about taxes, tolls, tithes, and money changing. Then there are civic organizations like colleges, companies, guilds, mercenary bands, thieves' dens, and universities. We also get a few paragraphs about manorial villages outside the city-state. Lastly, there are events and random urban encounters. It's a total of 12 pages long and quite useful.
Into The Wild follows and it is a 7 page article on travelling through the wilderness. It gives travel times, types of wilderness terrain one might encounter, natural dangers you might encounter, battle conditions, random encounters, and strongholds. Another article that is very useful.
After that is the article Barter & Trade, which gives tables of goods equivalent to 100gp, 1000gp, and 5000gp. Along with that is a merchant class, The Venturer, which can appraise, haggle, smuggle, lead, know languages, and sense danger. Good stuff!
The feature article of this issue is not a hexcrawl but detail on Ophir The Wicked, a city of corsairs located in the previous issue's hexcrawl. There's 23 pages on 61 buildings and their inhabitants. Since it is a city with black market and slave trade, Mr. Stater does state up front real slavery is real bad and this is but a pulp fiction version. Also, as a little joke, the slave auctioneer is a literal talking weasel.
Continuing to the next article, Sword Or Axe?, we get 4 pages on differentiating weapons from each other. Mr. Stater recommends giving axes more damage, bows more attacks (with a penalty to hit), crossbows more damage, daggers less damage but with a bonus to hit, flails with a bonus to disarm, javelins more damage, spears with a bonus to initiative and damage, and swords with a bonus to hit. In short, it gives a reason to choose one weapon over another. I think more could be done with this but it is a good start with slight touch.
Eureka! is an article about a scientist class who can make inventions. It's a very cool 3 pages that talks about research costs for formulas and inventions and gives a page of sample inventions. These inventions are costed by comparing them to a spell so are not strictly scientific. Sounds fun to me!
Next is Books & Scrolls which is 2 pages about the forms books came in (e.g. clay tablets, bamboo scrolls) and even what material the paper is made out of (parchment, vellum) and even the kinds of reading material.
The next 14 pages are devoted to printing the first part of George Macdonald's Phantastes, a novel about a young man entering the world of faerie. Mr. Stater does add gaming notes to the story and talks about Fairy Sight, Fairy Blood, Flower Fairies, Goblin-Fairies, The Ash, and The Beech (the latter two are trees).
Ships & The Sea is next. It's 6 pages on different sizes of ships, stats for those ships, enhancements for ships, and ship to ship combat (including the effect of spells). Very useful if you campaign at sea.
The Elan is another class, psychic knights based on E. E. Smith's Lensmen series, which I have not yet read. You must first be a Psychic class (from issue #1) and then when reaching level 4, can become an Elan. Elan retain their psychic powers and also get mindblades that get stronger as they level up.
Then there is Candle Magic where we get 2 pages of many candles and the different magic they produce. These are made by those Wise Women and Cunning Men from issue #1. Good stuff!
Finally, we have Pars Fortuna. This is not the complete game that Mr. Stater wrote but a preview of it which generated three race-classes. They are alien and weird and fit perfectly into a fantasy world.