RPGs Review of Kobold Quarterly Issue #22 (Summer 2012) by Open Design




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    Review of Kobold Quarterly Issue #22 (Summer 2012) by Open Design

    All the signs of Summer are here, with massive heat outside and SciFi and Gaming Conventions offering a cool haven for the fan boys and fan girls across the country. And amidst the long mid-summer days, with Origins Game Fair behind us and only a few short weeks until we get to experience the “best four days of gaming” at GenCon 2012, we’ve got tons of new game releases coming out, and a little something extra – a new issue of Kobold Quarterly!

    Yes, the Kobolds have cut loose, and unlike last years’ Summer Edition, which was a massive GenCon 2011 Special, this year’s Summer edition is out in stores now. As most gamers know, Open Design’s independent fantasy role-playing magazine, Kobold Quarterly, offers a wide range of content articles drawn from freelance authors and gaming pundits from the 3rd and 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder and Dragon Age role-playing game communities. Self-dubbed the “Switzerland of the Edition Wars”, it delivers content for all types of Heroic Fantasy RPGs.

    As I’ve done in my previous reviews of Kobold Quarterly, I’ll give a brief synopsis of each article, and rate its “crunch” and “fluff” content for the game system for which it was written.

    Kobold Quarterly Issue 22

    • Editor: Wolfgang Baur (Kobold in Chief)
    • Illustrations: Craig J. Spearing (cover); Stacey Allan, Andreas Cellarius, Storn Cook, Rick Hershey, Guido Kuip, Pat Loboyko, William McAusland, Aaron McConnell, Chris McFann, Lee Moyer, Russ Nicholson, Brian Patterson, Ryan Portillo, Stan!, Callie Winters, and Stephen Wood (interior)
    • Publisher: Open Design LLC
    • Year: 2012
    • Media: PDF (84 pages)
    • Price: $5.99 (PDF available from the RPGNow)

    The Summer Edition of Kobold Quarterly is has quite a wide range of articles this year, including five Features and another four Character focused articles. There are all the regular columns featured here, including Monte Cook’s Game Theories and the Book Reviews, as well as Skip Williams’ Ask the Kobold with 3.5/Pathfinder advice – not to mention a great d20Monkey comic!

    The production quality of the issue is excellent, with a solid and easy-to-read format, and some nice presentation of the articles. The art in KQ issues has been definitely getting better all the time, and the Summer issue is no exception – there’s a very cool bit of cover art featuring a she-warrior mounted on a fierce looking dragon! Kobold Quarterly also has quite a few nifty full-color ads for games and game related products – perfect eye-candy to be perusing before heading off to the Exhibition Hall at GenCon next month.

    In this Summer Issue, the Editorial by Wolfgang Baur enthuses about the proliferation of great new game systems discussed in this KQ 22, but also calls out for more non-Pathfinder article submissions. Seems that the Kobolds need more DragonAge, 4E, 5E, and other system articles, so interested freelancers should consider checking out the Submission Guidelines in the magazine and on the Kobold Quarterly website!

    The Articles

    Barbatos, Gatekeeper of Golarion’s Hells
    is (obviously) a Pathfinder article penned by Wes Schneider containing tons of great fluff material about this archdevil standing at the gates of Avernus, including his goals, corruptions, allies and enemies, servants, and cultists. But there is also some crunchy elements here as well including stat blocks for a demon hound called an edavagor, and two of his manifestations. Diabolically good stuff here.


    Fluff: 5
    Crunch: 4

    Dragonkin: The Mharoti Empire’s Legions by Brian A. Liberge is a 4E article for alternate powers for the Dragonborn player race in the Midguard campaign setting. The author offers a couple of brand new racial powers, plus Utility Powers from Level 2 to Level 22 which can be substituted at appropriate levels. There are even nine new feats, which when coupled with the new racial and utility powers, offers a completely new play experience for a race of anthropomorphic descendants of dragons.

    Fluff: 4
    Crunch: 4

    Monsters of Morphoi by Christina Stiles (with Ben McFarland) is a Pathfinder article offering a sneak peek at the upcoming Midguard Campaign Setting’s Journeys to the West project. The article features stat blocks for four of the creepy creatures native to the island, along with some background information about the project. A bit of blowing one’s own horn here, but still offers a couple of cool monsters to surprise your adventurers.

    Fluff: 3
    Crunch: 4

    Blood Brothers is a rather specialized Pathfinder archetype created by David Schwartz, because it requires two PC Rogues to carry it out in a campaign! The bond between the Blood Brothers offers some amazingly solid abilities to trick out a Rogue, featuring some rather humorous names such as Good Cop/Bad Cop, Keep Away, Snap out of It!, and Wingman. Very enjoyable read and a great role-playing concept as well!

    Fluff: 5
    Crunch: 5

    The GM’s Influence on Character is a new Game Theories column by Monte Cook, with some (of what he himself considers) controversial issues about how heavy-handed a GM should be with his players’ character creation. Mr. Cook gives some solid advice on the topic of when to impose on both character creation and character building, as well as recommendations on how to handle the process with favorable outcomes.

    Fluff: 4
    Crunch: NA

    The Escalation Dice by Rob Heinsoo is ostensibly a 13th AGE article, but offers insight into one of the upcoming game’s mechanics which can be adapted to all fantasy roleplaying games. The escalation dice is a very interesting mechanic which accelerates combat, and Mr. Heinsoo offers some great ideas for implementing the concept in 3.5, Pathfinder, 4E, Feng Shui, and DragonAge!

    Fluff: NA
    Crunch: 4

    Elven Archer Magic by Charles Lee Carrier and Nicholas Milasich offers 19 new spells for the Elven Archer Pathfinder class featured in Kobold Quarterly #20 . The spells offer a wide range of special effects on arrows, from fear effects to blasts of fire.

    Fluff: 3
    Crunch: 4

    Total Party Kill or Total Buzz Kill? is a new Howling Tower column article by Steve Winter with some great advice on a variety of ways to handle that moment every GM dreads – the TPK. Whether your methods are just to deal with the event or to intervene, the author offers plenty of solutions for getting passed the ultimate awkward moment in any game system.

    Fluff: 5
    Crunch: NA

    Weapons for a New AGE by Rodrigo García Carmona is a DragonAGE article offering three black powder guns to be used by heroes. The author pens both rules for handling firearms, game mechanics, and new character talents for including these weapons in your AGE campaign – he even includes a couple magic enhanced guns which any gun-slinging character would love to get his or her hands on.

    Fluff: 4
    Crunch: 5

    What’s Right for the Game is a featured interview with Pathfinder Lead Designer Jason Buhlman by Jeremy L. C. Jones. In the interview, Mr. Buhlman discusses the past and future of the Pathfinder product line, as well as what sorts of input from both fans and designers, go into making a new Pathfinder RPG product.

    Fluff: 4
    Crunch: NA

    Ask the Kobold is a regular column by Skip Williams with answers to OGL/3.5 rules queries. This issue, he discusses questions about druids and rangers dismissing animal companions and how a Bags of Tricks actually works.

    Fluff: 4
    Crunch: 4

    Hold’em for Questioning by Jeff Ibach is a Pathfinder and 4E article dealing with an alternative system for interrogating prisoners – both monsters and NPCs. The tables provided for questioning prisoners without torture offer some diversity in role-playing, the article is more useful to Pathfinder players, as it really does not work well with the usual Skill Challenge method recommended for 4E gaming.

    Fluff: 3
    Crunch: 3

    Dwarven Magical Rings is a Pathfinder article by John E. Ling. Jr. with 15 new rings with wondrous powers to add to your campaign. There are full magic item stat blocks and plenty of variety in the rings’ effects, but sadly very little fluff about the items themselves.

    Fluff: 2
    Crunch: 4

    The Scaled Steamhall is a luxurious bathhouse in the Mharoti Sultanate for use with the Midguard Campaign Setting for 4E. Author Will Doyle conjures up a sybaritic dream-spa of Dragonkin pleasures, and the cartography by Stacey Allan nicely maps out the sites interior. The Wyrmspa includes treatments which offer boons, stats on specially bred and stunted dragon mounts, and adventure hooks.

    Fluff: 5
    Crunch: 4

    Book Reviews in this issue include Jeff Grubb’s Star Wars Scourge, A Hero for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi, and Naomi Novik’s Crucible of Gold. William Banks, Shelly Baur, and Pierce Watters wrote this trio of reviews, and there’s apparently plenty of good reading here up for grabs!

    Fluff: NA
    Crunch: NA

    Pathfinder Society Guide to Varisia by Alex Greenshields brings the history and geography of the fabled lands of Varsia. Not only does the article contain plenty of great fluff, but also adventure hooks, and some traits for Varsian characters. The cartography of Rob Lazzaretti is stunning, with high visual details of this far-flung land.

    Fluff: 4
    Crunch: 4

    The Void of Veles is a Free City of Zobeck article by Wolfgang Bauer featuring insights about the heavens above the Midguard Campaign Setting. The articles hint at a sky filled with more mysteries than mere stars and comets, and it is a fun tidbit of cosmology for the setting.

    Fluff: 4
    Crunch: NA

    Overall Score: 4.3 out of 5

    Conclusions

    I have to say I’m very impressed with this Summer issue of Kobold Quarterly, and I like what I see in the quality of the articles and the diversity of the material. While it’s true that the 4E material is a bit scanty, what is included are some nice gems for use in a variety of settings. The Pathfinder content contains some exciting features, and even DragonAGE got some good attention. I expect to see more articles for 13th AGE coming along in the future, and I confess that I’m very intrigued by Rob Heinsoo’s new endeavor. The PDF, as always, is very economical for all the content in the magazine – it’s definitely a steal to be recommended to all FRPG GMs and Players!

    So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming!

    Editor’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of the product in PDF format from which the review was written.

    Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

    • Presentation: 4.5
    • - Design: 5.0 (excellent layout and a good venue for the articles)
    • - Illustrations: 4.0 (awesome cover, and some very good illustrations inside)
    • Content: 4.0
    • - Crunch: 4.0 (very good crunch for all systems)
    • - Fluff: 4.0 (wonderful details; very enjoyable to read)
    • Value: 4.5 (plenty of great articles and some real diversity among the systems)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails kq cover.jpg  
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    "Midgard."
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    I started a thread in the Pathfinder forum, Escalation die for Pathfinder - EN World: Your Daily RPG Magazine discussing one of the articles here.

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