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Thursday, 25th October, 2012, 04:38 AM #1
Defender (Lvl 8)
Review of Kobold Quarterly Issue #23 (Fall 2012) by Open Design
Already more than a month has passed since the first day of autumn this year, and Halloween is nearly upon us! And in the month of tricks and treats, the fourth and final issue of Kobold Quarterly for 2012 has been released with new role-playing content for gamers everywhere!
Kobold Quarterly has established itself as a role-playing game magazine with ties to all major fantasy role-playing game systems, and releases four issues each year in both a print and PDF format. Published by Open Design, this gaming magazine has new articles and material for D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder, D&D 4E, as well as DragonAge RPG. There is even an article of design notes regarding the upcoming new 13TH AGE Role-Playing Game!
As with previous EN World Reviews of Kobold Quarterly, each article will be rated on its own merit with respect to the game for which it was designed, and given an evaluation for both “crunch” and “fluff”.
Kobold Quarterly Issue 23
- Editor: Wolfgang Baur (Kobold in Chief)
- Illustrations: Emile Denis (cover); Jason Banditt Adams, Flaviano Armentaro, Bruno Balixa, Joe J. Calkins, Darren Calvert, Storn Cook, John Dollar, Jason Engle, Frank Heβefort, Michael Jaecks, Jeff Laubenstein, Pat Loboyko, Sean Macdonald, Terry Maranda, William McAusland, Chris McFann, Simon Powell, Claudio Pozas, Arthur Rackham, Jonathan Roberts, Karl Waller, and Stephen Wood (interior)
- Publisher: Open Design LLC
- Year: 2012
- Media: PDF (92 pages)
- Price: $5.99 (PDF available from the RPGNow)
Kobold Quarterly #23 is fourth issue of Open Design’s periodical for 2012, designed to supply new and variant content for fantasy role-playing games. The current issue includes four Feature articles, and seven Character focused articles, along with regular columns, including Monte Cook’s Game Theories, Steve Winter’s Howling Tower, and Skip Williams’ Ask the Kobold.
The production quality of Kobold Quarterly #23 is exceptional, with an easy-to-read format and sharp presentation of the articles. The artwork in this issue of KQ is quite excellent for the most part, with some really awesome and creepy illustrations clearly inspired by the season, although there were a couple of lackluster works in among the pages. The dark and scary cover art, “Master of Demon Mountain” by Emile Denis depicts a demonic-looking creature being defeated by heroes – very apropos for the Halloween season.
In this Fall Issue, Wolfgang Baur pens an Editorial which, regretfully, is more of an ad than a commentary on the gaming community or articles or gaming content. It ends up being an advertisement for the Midgard Campaign Setting, which follows two full pages of ads for the same product found on the first two pages of the magazine. I think I’d have preferred a discussion of the editor’s opinions on the mercurial depictions of demons and devils in fantasy gaming over the years, which would have been more interesting, and appropriate, given the content of this issue.
Dispater, Aristocrat Tyrant of Golarion’s Hells is a Pathfinder article by Wes Schneider continuing his series on archdevils in Golarion, which includes lots of fluff content about Dispater’s goals, corruptions, allies and enemies, servants, and cultists – including this hellish ruler’s current and former queens. Crunch elements include information about a centaur like devil called ascensoriel, and two forms of manifestation for lower level encounters.
Slithering in Moonlight by Marc Radle is a Pathfinder article offering the lamia as an alternative player race. The author has suggestions for role-playing a lamia commoner, and has racial traits and racial feats for creating a character. There is also a new mystery for the Oracle class – the Moon Mystery – with new spells and revelations for lamia characters. Interesting ideas for turning a classic monster into a Player-Character.
Pages from Asmodeus: The Vile Book of Doom and Deviltry by Ed Greenwood is a Pathfinder article about a book made at the behest of Archdevil Asmodeus himself. The famed author of the Forgotten Realms takes a look at “The Vile Black Book”, a diabolical tome containing nine fiendish spells and some special knowledge of devil-kind. Excellent stuff here, and quite evocative of the old “Pages from the Mages” series of articles he wrote for early edition D&D.
Mechuiti: Demon Lord of Cannibals is a Pathfinder article written by Adam Roy by for the Midgard Campaign Setting. It features material about a demon lord who is revered by cannibals and apes, and is worshipped by a tribe of evil pygmies called the behtu. The article also features stats for a new spell, and for a type of ape demon which serves the demon lord. Good and creepy material for any fantasy campaign.
The Gauntlet Witch is a new Pathfinder archetype for the Witch, created by Morgan Boehringer and Jim Wettstein. This archetype features an armored caster, using a metal and bladed glove and sleeve which extends to the shoulder, called an eldritch gauntlet. Sadly, the concept feels rather derivative of the character from the Witchblade comic series, and the artwork for the piece is one of those I mentioned as being a bit lackluster.
Real Scares is a new Howling Tower column article by Steve Winter, who offers eleven ways to create a stronger horror atmosphere at the gaming table. The author has some rather good ideas on how to bring feelings of dread and horror into a gaming session, and how to maintain it throughout play. Perfect topic for making gaming sessions more fun as Halloween approaches!
Different Kinds of World Building is a new Game Theories column by Monte Cook compares and contrasts the various ways that novelists, game designers, and game masters build worlds – and in the latter case, discusses how players can get involved in the process as well. The article features some designer comments about the author’s new game system and setting Numenera, for his project entitled The Ninth World. An enjoyable and insightful read.
The Devil’s Food by Michael Lane is a short adventure for Pathfinder heroes of around 6th Level. The adventure is set in Niemheim in Midgard, and features solid writing and some very nice mapping by Sean Macdonald.
Crossroads Crowned by Terry Maranda & Eric Hindley announces the winners of the 2012 Zobeck Tin Crown and Art Contests. The winners’ character and monster designs are listed in Pathfinder stat blocks, and include background information, adventure hooks, and other useful content to add them to a campaign.
Selling Your Soul by Rodrigo García Carmona is a DragonAGE article adding some rules and ideas on how to handle dealing with demons. The article goes into researching, summoning, negotiating, and banishing demons – hopefully with the summoner getting what he wanted from the bargain without being killed!
Ask the Kobold is a regular column by Skip Williams with answers to OGL/3.5 rules queries. This issue discusses questions regarding weapons used for tripping and disarming, and how Perception works into trap-finding as well as trap disarming.
A Few Suggestions is an edition neutral article by James Thomas with eight ways to use the suggestion spell to influence weak minds. The article discusses the spell’s use in general, and then features eight role-playing scenarios where the suggestion spell can make a challenging situation much easier to resolve.
The Devil Smiter by Peter von Bleichert discusses how to transform a 3.5 Edition Paladin into a specialized hunter of fiends called a devil smiter. The author utilizes a system not unlike the archetype system introduced for Pathfinder to modify existing classes through substitution of powers. However, the class variant seems a bit unbalanced, allowing a Paladin to substitute two cure disease weekly slots to gain two extremely potent powers.
Simplifying Sunder is a Pathfinder article by R.C. Higgins with new ways to make sunder work better in the game system. The article suggests using item conditions, as well as introduces two new feats to fix broken items, and to deal damage while sundering. Nice ideas for some house rules to make sunder a more satisfying combat option.
The Fruits of Friula is a Pathfinder article for the Midgard campaign setting, featuring new magic items in the form of inks, dyes, and poisons. Christina Stiles pens some imaginative new items here, including how they are used in making maps, portals, and even imbuing magical power.
Monk of the Glorious Endeavor is a Pathfinder archetype which allows monks to select an non-typical weapon to use throughout their career, perfecting its art in combat. Sadly, the article is a bit short in fluff, but the ideas for the archetype seem likely to have been inspired by Asian cinema, with martial artists mastering one particular weapon – often a quite odd one – in order to achieve enlightenment.
The Urge to Evolve is a Pathfinder adventure written by Adam Daigle for the Pathfinder Society. The adventure is written so that it can be scaled appropriately, is well-written, and features a nice adventure map by
cartographer Jason Engle.
Living Gods for 13th AGE by Ash Law is offers some advice on various ways to handle gods in the game, with and without The Priestess Icon involved. The author focuses on keeping the intent of the game creators to have deities exist as focal points for player-characters to bond with in a positive or negative way, as they do with icons. He discusses how role-playing and Q&A can be used to create a god, and how deities can offer boons and banes to mortals.
Earthdawn: Pathfinder by Hank Woon, Craig Guarisco, Katherine Fang, and Ira Mertes is an adventure locale in the Parlainth Adventure Campaign, featuring a powerful named horror called The Mindtrap. The article also includes the stats of the horror, a new powerful sword called the Nightscar, and maps and information to The Gilt Ship Casino. Cool stuff if you’re a fan of Pathfinder and Earthdawn!
Sign of the White Bat is a Free City of Zobeck article by Wolfgang Bauer which discusses derro cults and prophets in the campaign setting. Interesting material to create adventures and hooks surrounding this dangerous dwarfish race.
Overall Score: 3.9 out of 5
Overall, I’d have to say Kobold Quarterly #23 is a very good read, with a lot of exciting content featuring horror elements for the Halloween season. Most of the crunch was very good, but some articles could have used more fluff to allow game masters and players to implement the variants more efficiently into a campaign. And most of the artwork was very well done, along with some very cool mapping, and colorful advertising, making KQ #23 a very visually appealing book to read. But sadly, there was no real 4E coverage in this issue of KQ, which is not surprising with the re-focusing of WotC on D&D Next and off the current edition. So while Kobold Quarterly #23 is well worth considering for most fantasy gamers out there playing 3.5, Pathfinder, DragonAge or 13th Age, D&D 4E readers will find little between the pages except fluff which they might be able to adapt to their own campaigns.
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.
- - Design: 4.5 (Excellent layout; easy to read and reference)
- - Illustrations: 3.5 (Great cover and mostly good illustrations inside)
- Content: 3.7
- - Crunch: 3.4 (Decent crunch for all systems; no 4E stuff however)
- - Fluff: 3.9 (Great details; some articles could use more fluff)
- Value: 4.0 (plenty of great articles and some real diversity among the systems)
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Thursday, 25th October, 2012, 04:58 PM #2
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
Friday, 26th October, 2012, 09:21 AM #3
A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)
Rose City Regulars - ENWorld Gamers in and around Portland, Oregon, USA
Friday, 26th October, 2012, 01:17 PM #4
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
Friday, 26th October, 2012, 09:31 PM #5
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
This is probably one of the best issues of KQ yet (I have all the PDFs) and massive. I real successor to the D + D mags of old, I even enjoy the ads . It lacks crunch for 4E fans, but that is because no one is submitting any 4E articles to the Kobolds, 5E has knocked that in the head. I doubt this will change, sadly for 4E-ites, especially earlier issues were often 4E heavy in 4E's prime. However even 4E fans will get lots of inspiration and fluff so well worth it for snaffling up.
I would certainly rank it higher than Neuro has, but I guess he gets less use out of it than me due to being a 4E-er. I also found the fluff-crunch ratio perfect for my tastes.
Last edited by mach1.9pants; Friday, 26th October, 2012 at 09:39 PM.
Saturday, 27th October, 2012, 03:16 AM #6
Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)
Last edited by Morrus; Saturday, 27th October, 2012 at 07:30 AM.
Saturday, 27th October, 2012, 12:56 PM #7
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
Saturday, 27th October, 2012, 05:44 PM #8
Novice (Lvl 1)
Nice job on the art, Claudio! I was really curious to see how my Lamia article was going to be illustrated and you didn't disappoint!
Freelance Writer | Illustrator | Graphic Designer
Last edited by MarcR; Saturday, 27th October, 2012 at 05:48 PM.
Monday, 29th October, 2012, 10:26 PM #9
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
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