Dungeon magazine, or simply Dungeon, is one of the two official magazines for source material for the Forgotten Realms, first published in 1986. Its sister publication is the more widely read Dragon magazine.
It was first published in September/October 1986 and began as a bi-monthly issue then went monthly in 2003 and ceased print publication in September 2007, with issue 150. It went digital and then final issue was 221..
The Paizo/Polyhedron era
In late 2002, Paizo Publishing acquired publishing rights to both Dungeon and Dragon, as part of a move by Wizards of the Coast to divest business ventures not related to its core business.
Starting with Issue 90 in 2002, Dungeon was combined with Polyhedron magazine into a single magazine. Many of the Polyhedron sections presented complete mini-games for the d20 system, starting with "Pulp Heroes" in issue 90.
On April 18, 2007, Wizards of the Coast announced that Paizo would cease publication of Dungeon in September of that year. Scott Rouse, Senior Brand Manager of Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast stated, "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."
With the cancellation of Dungeon and its sister publication, Dragon, Paizo Publishing has announced a new monthly publication titled Pathfinder, which will combine the concept of the Adventure Path with the support articles which appeared in Dragon.
Each issue provides self-contained pre-written, playtested game scenarios, often called "modules" in early issues (it is now more common to just call them "adventures" or "scenarios"). DMs can present these adventures to their players as written, or adapt them to their own needs. By providing ideas, plots, villains, maps, monsters, and hooks, it can save DMs a great deal of time preparing a game for their players.
As a magazine containing several modules per issue, it is also significantly cheaper than stand-alone modules, which perhaps explains its enduring popularity. Dungeons glory era ran from the late eighties to the mid nineties, when the scenarios were mostly selected on basis of plot, style and featured characters.
From about 1997 onward, the magazine began to focus increasingly on simpler scenarios with lots of monsters to kill and treasure to find, rather than intricate stories and imaginative settings, a change which coincided with Wizards of the Coast's takeover of TSR, Inc. and the general direction the game as a whole started to take after that.
A notable feature of Dungeon magazine's recent history has been the use of connected series of adventures; these long series are referred to as "Adventure Paths" and take characters from the very beginning of their adventuring careers (1st level) up through Epic levels (20+). Three lengthy series were completed: the Shackled City (11 parts), Age of Worms (12 parts) and Savage Tide, concluding with issue 150. In addition, several shorter series (typically three parts) and a sporadic, open-ended series of Maure Castle adventures figured in later issues. The Shackled City series has been reprinted as a hardcover book, with various revisions and corrections, new background information, and an additional adventure added to fill a gap near the beginning of the series.
In August 2004, starting with issue #114, editor Erik Mona changed the format, focusing solely on Dungeons & Dragons and discontinuing the Polyhedron section. The new format included three adventures per issue, one each for low, medium, and high levels. A few issues each year contained another substantial article, which typically provided further details on the setting of one of the adventures in that issue. (Previously, Dungeon almost never had articles other than adventures). Following the adventures and articles, many issues contained the three-page Dungeoncraft column, at the time written by Monte Cook, as well as a few two-page articles on various subjects collectively called the Campaign Workbook.
Wil Wheaton had a regular column called Wil Save, but Wheaton chose to discontinue it as he has been extremely busy, has had health problems and was somewhat dispirited by the mixed reception the column received.