Summer marches onward, scorching us with unrelenting heat. My only relief is the Summer 2012 issue of Kobold Quarterly. It has a pretty wicked cover of a dragon and its rider, and has “Preview: 13th Age” right there. Promising stuff. There is even a Castles & Crusades article, for the old school among you. Let’s see how it measures up.
Barbatos by Wes Schneider, art by Pat Loboyko and Callie Winter
Right out of the gate we have a very strong article about the Bearded Lord of Avernus, the uppermost layer of Golarion’s Hells. I am not well-versed in Golarion lore, so it is appropriate that Barbatos is the gatekeeper. Barbatos’s domains include Evil, Law, Magic, and Travel. Travel is what interests me most. His temples are animal graveyards, crossroads, stone circles, and unmarked graves. An interesting mix, to be sure, and it could offer up some excellent opportunities for side encounters during a campaign.
In my review of KQ’s previous issue, I said that when something mysterious is laid bare, it loses its allure. I don’t feel that happens in this article. We learn about Barbatos’s allegiances, rivalries, and some of his methods, but it does not delve too deeply into his history or his life in Avernus. More generally, it is not an ecology article. Much of the piece discusses Barbatos’s cults, haunts, and servitors (the utterly disgusting edavagors).
I have been on an epic quest these last few months tirelessly searching for what could be considered the very best table top pen and paper role playing game out there. My fingers surfed the keyboard of my MacBook Pro all over the Internets asking search engines the question, “What is the very best table top RPG out there?” I have read forum posts, blog posts, e-mails and chats with friends. Sadly, I was unable to get a clear and concise answer.
I took my quest to the next level. I pored through just about every single RPG book and PDF I have collected in the last three years since I got into table top RPGs. It’s a shockingly large amount of material I have collected. I focusing my time on reading how each different RPG handles character creation and game mechanics as those are the areas I have issues with in the RPGs I have played.
The truth is, I didn’t know what to look for, but I will know it when I see it. I wanted simple character creation with lots of choices for races and classes. Something that would fit on one piece of notebook paper old school style. You should not need several sheets of paper and index cards to build your character and track all of their powers. To me that is no longer a pen and paper RPG. It’s something else that I don’t think the hobby has developed a name for. More
The above video and this post are a follow up to a post I wrote titled: Castles & Crusades Unboxing. It was particularly about the shipping and the conditions of the Castles & Crusades books when I received them.
I am going to take some time here to clarify my thoughts and opinion on a couple of other issues I had with the Castles & Crusades books that I did not bring up in the video due to time.
Based on recommendations from more than one friend and reviews I had been reading on the Internet, (or “tubes” as we say in Alaska) I ordered three Castles & Crusades books from Troll Lord Games. The Players Handbook, Monsters & Treasure and Castle Keepers Guide. I have heard nothing but good things about this game and I wanted to make sure I had a copy sitting on my book shelf for when my group and I where ready to play it. So I ordered it.
Two weeks later the game found its way to my hands. That’s a little more time than most RPG orders I make but, not a big deal to me. Like I said, I wanted the game ready for when my party was ready to try something new.
I picked up the C&C package from my post office yesterday and was a little worried because the box that the books where shipped in was looking a little beaten up. I tried not to let this bother me. In the past I have ordered RPG books from other companies that have come to me in beat up boxes, but the books where perfectly fine. My luck must have run out however, because these books where not in what I would call new condition.
When I got home I opened the box to discover that the packing used to protect the books – wads of brown paper – was only covering one side of the books as you can see in the picture below. The other side was resting against the box. So any bumps, dings, or bangs that the box encounter on this ride to Alaska would effect at least one of the book’s hard covers. Compared to my experience of ordering the Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition book and Gamemaster’s Kit from Green Ronin, it seems like Troll Lord Games must have a troll in some dark and dusty basement doing all the packaging and mail orders. Green Ronin really set the bar high for how products should be shipped. Amazon.com does not even do it as good as them.