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Dragon was the official Dungeons & Dragons magazine. Published from 1976 to 2002 by TSR / Wizards of the Coast, the magazine was outsourced to Paizo Publishing (a company founded by WotC alums, now known for publishing Pathfinder) through September 2007 (issue 359). At this point Wizards took the license back from Paizo, and restarted it as an online-only version, in which format it was published until 2013, whereupon it went on indefinite hiatus. In all incarnations, Dragon has been "100% official content", and much material that was first published in it has found its way into D&D gaming supplements; in this way, it has served as a proving ground for aspiring game designers. Three other publications were merged with it at various times—Little Wars (TSR's wargaming publication), Ares (for science fiction games that TSR acquired from SPI), and Living Greyhawk Journal (for WotC's organized play events).

From 1986 to its end Dragon was accompanied by Dungeon magazine, which provided premade adventures (mostly for Dungeons & Dragons). In 2015, both it and Dungeon were succeeded by Dragon+, a bi-monthly online magazine which published the same mix of content as its predecessors but restarted its numbering at No. 1.

The magazine spun off several comic strips, including Knights of the Dinner Table, What's New? with Phil and Dixie, Dork Tower, and Nodwick. Additionally, The Order of the Stick ran a series of bonus strips in it.

A CD collection of issues 1-250 and its predecessor The Strategic Review was released in 1999. It is very much out of print. The reason for this is that TSR, when digitizing the issues, neglected to get any clearances for copyrighted material they didn't own (including the Knights of the Dinner Table strips), and predictably, they got sued by angry rightsholders who weren't going to receive royalties.

Not to be confused with the Japanese magazine called Dragon, which covers Japanese RPGs and includes manga, and was the original source of Slayers, Full Metal Panic!, Chrono Crusade, and other series.note  While it has similar-ish content to the North American Dragon and shares a name (and even tends to cover a fair bit of Japanese D&D content), it was not owned by TSR and does not focus on D&D exclusively. And we use the present tense here, for as of the 2020s, Dragon Japan is still in print!

If you are looking for a trope about the Big Bad's second-in-command, see The Dragon. If you're looking for large reptiles of some sort, see Our Dragons Are Different.

Dragon provides examples of:

  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: A regular feature by this name spotlighted new, unusual, and often humorously twisted magical items. An example is the "Ring of Spell Turning". If you use it, you hear from the ring, "Turning. T-U-R-N-I-N-G. Turning." Usually the items featured in it were practical if often highly specialized items but for the April issue there would be funny magic devices that were (mostly) useless.
  • Cool Gate: In issue #100, the adventure "The City Beyond The Gate" has the players travel through one to (then present-day) 1985 London to recover a powerful artifact from the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Crossover:
  • Deadly Dust Storm: #51 story "A Part of the Game". The story begins with a sandstorm that lasts an entire day and most of the night, forcing a caravan to stop to avoid becoming lost. With the dawn the entire face of the desert has changed, causing them to become lost anyway.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils:
    • Some of the most perennially popular articles were "The Nine Hells" (parts I and II) and "The Nine Hells Revisited", penned by Ed Greenwood in the early '80s and which delved into the hierarchy of D&D's version of Hell for the first time, introducing a number of recurring villains.
    • Towards the end of the magazine's print run, the "Demonomicon of Iggwilv" series of articles, each of which spotlighted an individual demon lord in great detail.
  • Depending on the Writer: Some of the article styles change depending on the author or when in the magazine's run they appear. For example, the earliest "Ecology" articles were stylized as stories of a character's encounter with a particular creature, with some details woven into the story and others reduced to Footnote Fever. Then it changed over to feature a core cast of characters, in the form of a greedy, ambitious and somewhat incompetent mage's guild who hunted monsters for profit. And then finally it changed to a more straightforward and scholarly dossier approach — although not without some exceptions, like the gag "Ecology of the Adventurer" or the "Ecology of the Isle of Dread" (which was depicted as an In-Universe explorer's journal).
  • Dragon Hoard: One cover was a picture of a dragon's hoard, which contained gold, jewels, and many, many less conventional objects, like a kitchen sink.
  • Elemental Fusion: Issue #65 uses this concept to fill out the "color wheel" of chromatic dragons. In addition to the white, black, green, blue and red chromatic dragons, some scholars believe in the existence of yellow, orange and purple dragons. The various colored types are thought to have produced new breeds via color theory: yellow and blue dragons might have bred to create the green subspecies, orange dragons could be the result of red and yellow dragons mating, and purple dragons might descend from red and blue dragons. The conjectured crossbreeds' Breath Weapons are consequently derived by combining or "decomibining" those of the extant kinds:
    • The green dragon's cone of poisonous gas is thought to be the result of the blue dragon's electricity breath separating chlorine gas from the yellow dragon's salt (sodium chloride) attack.
    • The orange dragon breathes the remaining elemental component of salt in the form of a stream of liquid sodium, whose whose violent ignition on contact with oxygen most closely parallels its red ancestors' fire-based breath.
    • The purple dragon's Pure Energy breath attack, often likened to plasma, is a combination of a blue dragon's line of electricity and a red dragon's cone of fire.
  • Emergency Temporal Shift: In the #65 article "Timelords", a member of the Timelord Non-Player Character class has two powers that allow escape through time:
    • The power "Move Self Forward in Time" allows the Timelord to go forward in time up to two minutes for each Character Level they have. The Timelord simply disappears and re-appears at the designated time.
    • "Move Own Group Forward in Time" allows the Timelord (and one other character per Character Level) to move forward in time up to two minutes per Character Level.
  • Honest Advisor: As Shannon Appelcline put it in the first volume of Designers And Dragons, at least at the start Dragon was intended to be more than just a "house organ". If TSR wanted to place ads in Dragon they had to buy space like any other company; conversely, if Dragon wanted to review a TSR product, they shelled out the dough to buy a copy. Issue #55 includes not one, but two decidedly mixed reviews of the 1e Fiend Folio (the long-awaited sequel to the classic Monster Manual) that complained about many of the monsters being derivative or lacking detailed background information.
  • In the Future, We Still Have Roombas: Issue #48 Top Secret adventure "Dr. Yes: The Floating Island Mission". The enemy facility has small robots called "Bernies" that can act as vacuum cleaners (and trash compactors, because they compress the trash they pick up), They also mop and wax the floor as they pass over it. When one encounters a trail of debris (dirt, water, blood, etc.) it will follow it to its source, cleaning as it goes.
  • Knight's Armor Hideout: "The Wizards Three", a series of humorous short stories by Ed Greenwood in which Mordenkainen of Greyhawk, Elminster of the Forgotten Realms, and Dalamar of Dragonlance met for friendly dinner parties in Ed's dining room while Ed hides in a suit of armor.
  • Mockumentary: The "Ecology of..." articles presented in-depth looks at various D&D monsters. For most of the TSR era, they were presented as short stories with footnotes, while Paizo made them actual articles.
  • Notzilla: The magazine once had an editor's note about their refusal to print Dungeons & Dragons stats for Godzilla, the editor at the time simply stated that, licensing issues aside, they could change his name to "Herman" and most PC's would be lizard food.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Zigzagged; the long-running "Ecology of the (X)" series was devoted to exploring the particular quirks, aspects and details of various monsters in greater detail, which is technically subverting the trope... only to then play it straight with how weird some of those aspects could be. For example, the Common and Noble Lamias are linked by Bizarre Alien Reproduction; the male and female serpent-taur Nobles can produce more of their own kind through Interspecies Romance with humans, but mating with each other produces Common Lamias... which are lioness/she-goat/doe/female antelope-taurs who are hermaphrodites, having the upper torsos of women and both sets of sexual organs. Common Lamias can then go on to either mate with humans (more Commoners) or mate with each other to produce the sterile sa'irs, which have the forequarters of a lion and the hindquarters & horns of a goat and are almost animalistic in intelligence.
  • Our Unicorns Are Different: Issues #190 discusses a number of unicorn variants, namely the alicorn (gnarly-horned unicorns that can cast Charm Person), the pyrocorn (Neutral Evil bay-colored unicorns who can cast a number of fire spells), the black unicorn (capable of magically manipulating darkness), the roanicorn (desert-dwelling brown unicorns with telepathy and ESP), the cunnequine (Lawful Good counterparts to the traditional Chaotic unicorn), the faerie unicorn (small, green-tinted chameleonic unicorns), the graycorn (True Neutral gray colored unicorns that reflect damage back at their attackers), the criocorn (palomino-colored Lawful Evil unicorns with ice-related magic), the chromacorn (pinto-colored Neutral Good unicorns that can cast illusions and Prismatic Sprays), the narwhal or sea unicorn, the unisus (a Winged Unicorn born from crossbreeding a unicorn and a pegasus), and the zebracorn (zebra-striped unicorns with Voluntary Shapeshifting powers).
  • Real-World Episode: Issue #100's "The City Beyond the Gate", which sees the party traveling to Present Day (circa 1985) London, England, Earth, to recover a powerful artifact, the Mace of St. Cuthbert, that has somehow ended up on exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Issue #57 also had an article, 'Modern Monsters: The Perils of 20th-Century Adventuring', giving details on how to homebrew your own examples.
  • Roguish Romani: The magazine #93 adventure "The Gypsy Train" thoroughly describes a band of Gypsies, including complete character descriptions and stats. The Gypsies are stated to be "light-fingered", including stealing things from PCs.
  • Running Gag: The oft-promised but never-quite-delivered "Sex and D&D" edition of comic strip What's New? with Phil and Dixie. It was finally delivered in the 1994 strip collection... but was, in fact, all about monster mating habits.
  • Shout-Out: Issue #48 Top Secret adventure "Dr. Yes: The Floating Island Mission"
    • Many of the Non Player Characters have names that are based on those of Real Life and fictional characters. They include Bruce Nee (Bruce Lee), Chuck Morris (Chuck Norris), James Pong (James Bond), Doctor Yes (Dr. No), Mohammed Chang (The Dragon Chang in Moonraker) and "Sweetbeam" Leotard (Sugar Ray Leonard).
    • One of the non-player characters has no name. He has a cruel mouth, makes subtle puns, and females will be attracted to him. He uses cigarettes with three gold bands and owns a Bentley automobile. He's a high-ranking British agent and the British Secret Service will pay an $11,000 reward if the PCs rescue him. In short, he's the literary James Bond.
    • In "The Ecology of the Kraken", the example advanced Kraken is called Great K'thurall. His worshipers deliver his sacrifices via a ritual called 'the drowning man', which is basically a watery variant of The Wicker Man.
  • Silliness Switch: April issues were always gags, with goofy monsters, useless magic items, and a Hurricane of Puns.
  • True-Breeding Hybrid: Issue #65 discusses the "lost" or "forgotten" chromatic dragons. While everyone knows about the white, black, green, blue and red chromatic dragons, some scholars believe in the existence of yellow, orange and purple dragons, which are thought to be related to the more famous breeds via color theory: yellow and blue dragons might have bred to create the green subspecies, orange dragons could be the result of red and yellow dragons mating, and purple dragons might descend from red and blue dragons. Their breath weapons are also imagined as midpoints between their parents' own elemental breaths.
  • Uncancelled: Being published by Paizo saved it from even earlier cancellation.
  • The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Issue #200 had a debate on who was D&D's greatest wizard: Elminster (argued for by Ed Greenwood) or Raistlin (argued for by Tracy Hickman). At the end of the article, it's revealed that the battle was being set up by Mordenkainen.
  • Unicorns Prefer Virgins: Issue #190 describes a number of unicorn variants, several with their own spins on this theme: alicorns and cunnequines have the same requirements as common sylvan unicorns, the Neutral Evil pyrocorns accept evil female riders with affinities for fire magic, the Chaotic Evil black unicorns accept evil fighters or thieves of either sex, fairy unicorns accept any halfling, gnome, elf or fairy of good heart, gray unicorns accept only female druids of strictly neutral alignment, the Lawful Evil criocorns bear only exceptionally evil women with a talent for icy magic or who worship an evil god of cold or winter, pinto unicorns accept any rider of pure heart, narwhals bear only sea elven women of pure heart, and unisi may be ridden by any humanoid maiden with a good heart.
  • Winged Unicorn: Unisi (singular unisus), described in Isse #190, are winged and horned equines created from the crossbreeding of unicorns and pegasi. They have the same habitat preferences and societies as pegasi, but share the unicorns' horn attack and preference for female riders of pure heart. Their horns can be used to brew potions that allow their drinkers to fly. Alicorns are also described, but are wingless unicorns with gnarled horns and the ability to run in the air.

Alternative Title(s): Dragon Magazine, Dragon Plus