Tomes of Antiquity: (The) Dragon Magazine
Dragon magazine, originally launched as The Dragon magazine, was published for 31 years. The Dragon debuted in June 1976 as a publication of Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) as a replacement for The Strategic Review‘s brief run. At some point, the publication was renamed Dragon Magazine from the original The Dragon magazine. In 1997, after the purchase or TSR by Wizards of the Coast in 1997, publication was of the magazine was shifted to Washington state from Wisconsin. In 2002, WotC licensed the rights to publish both Dragon and Dungeon magazines to Paizo Publishing.
In April 2007, Wizards of the Coast announced that it would not renew the licensing agreement with Paizo Publishing. Paizo Publishing released the final Dragon Magazine #359 in September 2007. WotC’s released a statement regarding non-renewal of the contract stating, “Today the internet is where people go to get this kind of information. By moving to an online model we are using a delivery system that broadens our reach to fans around the world.” The follow on content is now delivered via D&D Insider under a subscription model.
Wizards of the Coast released an electronic copy of Dragon and The Strategic Review covering the original 250 issues of Dragon and the 7 editions of SR in 1999 under the title Dragon Magazine Archive. The release was short lived due to subsequent copyright issues and quickly ceased publication. Used copies are still available but have risen significantly in price sine the release. The underlying documents are in PDF format but the CD collection provides a searchable front-end for content.
Originally conceived as a general gaming publication, Dragon was frequently derided as an advertising tool for TSR. Much of the content was focused on Dungeons and Dragons including many preliminary looks at rule changes, which later became part of the core system. Dragon magazine featured many world class artists, game authors and and game designers. In addition to introducing rules features, many game viewpoints and ideas were expressed in the pages of Dragon.
If you are looking for a particular article or author, The Dragondex provides a searchable index of the magazine, which is very useful. Additionally, The Acaeum provides a more high level index with publication dates and cover scans.
If you can overlook Dragon as an advertising vehicle, it has certainly played a major role in the history of role playing games. The 31 year spanned a great number of changes. It provided a vehicle for introduction to many gaming authors and their subsequent works. Anyone play Forgotten Realms by some guy named Ed Greenwood? While I have a far from complete archive of the magazine, I am looking forward to going back to re-read many of the interviews, articles and game elements.